I Can Show you the World

Have you ever been obsessed with an idea that you would literally do anything to make it a reality? Nobody can talk you out of it, no obstacle can discourage you, and no substitute can compare to the vision in your mind?

For me, I was completely obsessed with..my blinds. Before you judge, let me explain. First, I’m going to make some assumptions:

  1. You are a human being
  2. You’ve seen a lot of windows
  3. You don’t remember the blinds on any of them

My spidey senses tell me I’m three for three. Why? Because blinds in the traditional sense are boring. I had pull down shades that kept out the sun and weren’t awful to look at, but I certainly didn’t love them. I do, however, value privacy so I decided to replace them with something that would raise the bar. If only it were that simple…

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I loved the idea of collecting roll down educational charts, but I couldn’t find any for under
$400-$500 a pop. New, old, you name it. They are expensive. I scoured for months on end with no results.

As I was literally sitting in a pile of crushed maps and mod podge feeling sorry for myself after a failed DIY attempt (don’t ask), a Facebook break led to the discovery of everything I’d been searching for at an incredibly reasonable price.  Thanks to Cottage Street in Grandview, I am now the proud owner of four amazing canvas maps from the 1950’s. A retired teacher brought them in and I jumped at the chance to own something so special.

As soon as they were hung, I knew I’d stumbled across something incredible. Each map is in excellent condition yet still feels well-loved. They are completely unique, with vibrant colors that tie together nicely. From WWII shipping patterns to the colonial expansion, each canvas tells a story and serves as a stunning conversation piece. File_000 (6).jpeg

I love how unexpected they are. This type of window treatment certainly wouldn’t work in every house, but it feels perfect for mine.

The whole renovation process requires taking one leap of faith after another. Some don’t work out, and others create something amazing. Either way, I wouldn’t change a thing.

More soon.

 

 

 

 

Deck the Halls

long-nightsI feel incredibly blessed to enjoy Christmas in our first home this year. Other than a tree, my decorations were nonexistent. I’ve been busy the past few months crafting, collecting hand me downs, and scouring thrift stores for the perfect decorations. I’m pleased to say that I managed to fill the air with holiday cheer without breaking the bank.

I didn’t have energy to string lights outside, but I did dress up the entryway. I made the North Pole sign out of some salvaged cedar fence and scrap wood from the garage. The sled and mailbox came from Calvin’s family farm, and simple greenery brought it all together.file_002

Inside, I skipped the ribbon and took a “less is more” approach with my tree.We have a few sentimental ornaments, but for the most part I used acorns and berries. I also hung masks from Calvin’s trips to Italy.

My favorite tree trick (thanks mom) is to stuff the space between the branches from the inside out with plain shiny bulbs. You don’t really see them, but they help it to look full and reflect the light which makes everything look so much brighter.

I’ve yet to find a tree skirt worth buying, so I bundled a throw blanket around the bottom. It leaves room for Calvin’s favorite decoration, his Lionel Train! Our dogs are terrified of this contraption, but I think it’s adorable. I found some village houses to place at the bottom for under a dollar. Simple and cute!

The ladies at the Otterbein Thrift Store convinced me to buy a cute little electric fireplace heater. Thank goodness they did, because the dogs LOVE it, and it’s the perfect spot for our stockings! They are hung above on a sign with old doorknobs that says “And the stockings were hung..” I used an old ladder (another freebie) for some blankets and a wreath, and a light up NOEL sign adds some sparkle to the living area.

file_002-1For the dining room centerpiece, I switched out the fall decor in the feeding troth for acorns, berries and file_004-1faux fruit. I also wrapped the light fixture with garland and added a hanging  birch Christmas tree with lights to the far wall.

I decorated the bar cart with a doll house (another five dolla holla from the Otterbein Thrift store,  ceramic tree that we already had.  You can’t tell from the picture, but it’s covered with dachshunds!

The final touch was to hang mistletoe on the beam separating the living & dining room.
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I love the cozy feeling of the holidays, but even more I love the time shared with family and friends, and the sense of compassion among strangers. Calvin and I would like to wish you and yours the happiest of holidays. Whatever you celebrate, I hope you are able to enjoy quality time with those you hold near and dear.  It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year!

All in a Day’s Work

We’ve been sleeping upstairs for a few weeks and the house already feels SO much bigger. Physically fitting the bed up the stairwell was quite a challenge – let’s just say a lot of tools and expletives were dropped in the process. After a few hours of blood, sweat, and tears, we finally finagled our way upstairs. As an added bonus, I now know how to completely destruct and rebuild a box spring!

“The Great Migration” as I call it, gave us the opportunity for an additional living area downstairs. Generally, I knew I wanted a space that would allow me to do the following:

  • Work from home
  • Store crafting supplies
  • Do home/craft projects
  • Store instruments for the occasional jam sesh

Ideally I would have a separate room for each of these, but in this particular scenario, I had about 150 square feet to work with. Sooooo, I procrastinated. I couldn’t decide how to make it feel like a cohesive space instead of the the “catch-all” room that it secretly is.

The first step was a desk. I scoured the internet for weeks, but couldn’t find anything worth buying. Then I realized we had the perfect solution in our garage! A few months ago, we salvaged* a bunch of old doors from the rafters of my In-Laws’ place that have been collecting dust in my garage ever since. 

*Salvage (v): The compulsive act of collecting a vast array free and/or significantly under-priced items that will certainly one day fulfill a fantastic purpose, but which at the time of collection, no inclination of said purpose has yet been detected. 

 

The perfect piece was solid wood with a ridiculously amazing hunter green patina. I pressure washed it first to get rid of the grime, then sanded it smooth and cleaned it with Murphy’s Oil Soap (AKA my personal miracle worker). I love the character it brings to the room. My favorite part is the “H” that was hand carved once upon a time.  

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We used gas pipe for the legs and put our filing cabinet underneath. For about $30 bucks and some elbow grease, I think it looks pretty good!

After the main furniture piece, the rest of the room came together quickly. I used a slab of walnut with a live edge (another freebie) for the table top to the 2 large cabinets that house my stencils and craft supplies. I set up the keyboard and other instruments (banjo, mandolin, ukulele & guitar – you name it, I’ll pretend I can play it) around the room so they’re all grab and go.

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I’m really pleased with the outcome and once we got started, it all came together in a day.

Up We Go

Hold on to your hats, folks –  it’s time to move upstairs. I didn’t think the day would ever arrive, but the paint has dried, the dust has settled and here we are!

(Pssst, If you’re just tuning in, check out Movin’ on Up(stairs) quickly followed by Transformation Tuesday – Part Deux to catch up on what has been the bane of my existence for the past 3 months.)

We probably could’ve reached this point a lot sooner, but I managed to talk myself out of painting for quite some time after the floors were finished. Luckily, some friends put an end to my procrastination by bringing over some liquid courage & joining in on the fun.I chose a light grey (Behr Silver Bullet if you’re curious) for most of the house. We painted the closet and stair risers white to match the trim – I love the finished result!

 

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The upper level is all open, so the plan is to  divide it into 4  spaces that will culminate to be one large master suite. First up was transforming the  the area to the left of the stairs into a cozy reading and craft nook. Most of the items we used in here were either free or dirt cheap. I love it when that happens!

I found used bookshelves online and spray painted them white – the whole project cost about $30. The rocking chair was Calvin’s great, great grandmother’s, and the sewing basket was a gift. Throw in some miscellaneous decor, knitting needles and my favorite book collection, and a once awkward area is now functional and cute. What do you think of the change?

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After

Estate Sale Madness

Forgive me for my recent hiatus. My unexpected chiropractic shituation threw a wrench in the house reno and then (to avoid killing each other), the hubs and I took a break from the house & hit the road for fun in the sun.

Since my return, I’ve been busting my tail to get some projects finished. Remember the beautiful farmhouse table I found when we moved in? It’s been serving diligently as my laundry table for the past 2 months, chairless and bland. Not exactly what I had in mind. I had a vision of a bench paired with several mismatched chairs surrounding it to make the perfect gathering place.

There were two problems with this picture:

  1. I’m cheap. Most of my free time (if that even exists anymore) is devoted to browsing Craigslist, Facebook “For Sale” sites, Flea Markets, and estate sales. To say I love a bargain would be a gross understatement.
  2. I’m ridiculously picky. Just ask my husband. That poor guy has seen me turn away dozens (maybe even hundreds) of chairs without a second glance. I can’t explain my taste, but I know it when I see it.

My vacation must have done the trick, because I came back with fresh eyes and found exactly what I was looking for in under a week.

Here’s my haul:

Chairs: $40

 I chalk painted all of these babies white and they look amazing!

Light Fixture: $99

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I found this beaut hiding out at World market. I’d looked at similar ones elsewhere that were about 5 times as expensive. We popped in an Edison bulb and it looks awesome! (Way better than the ceiling fan that used to hang in its place).

Church Pew: $120

Isn’t this thing amazing? This was my splurge piece for the room. We originally planned to build a bench and put this on the front porch, but the longer I see here, the more I love it. It still has the song book holder on the back, and brightens up the room with the light wood.

I tossed some  pillows on it that I had laying around to soften it up.

This is certainly a conversation piece and even though it’s the most expensive item in the room, it was still cheaper than any bench I’ve found online.

 

 

So there you have it.

For around $270 (including paint and materials) I furnished my dining room. I finished it off with our sheer curtains, glassware, and stools from storage, along with some fresh flowers to bring everything together. I absolutely love the way it turned out & it feels even better knowing it didn’t cost a fortune. Check out the finished product and let me know what you think!

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Doctor’s DOORders

My body hates me. Like..really, really hates me. It is so pissed off about the work I’ve been doing that I woke up Tuesday and couldn’t move. My hip was out and my neck was F.U.B.A.R.

Side note: If you don’t know what F.U.B.A.R. means, you’re doing something right.

Not. Cute.

So far this week, I have:

  • Been to the chiropractor (twice)
  • Consumed a lifetime supply of magnesium and pain pills
  • Invented at least 50 new swear words

It turns out that if you work nonstop for 2 months, your body will flip you the bird and a big way. Especially if you rocked a casually sedentary lifestyle before signing up for a lifetime of debt and physical labor. My neck, ribs, collarbone, hips and vertebrae were all dislocated. My doctor’s exact words were “You’re a wreck. Don’t lift so much as a laundry basket until I see you again.”

So. Renovations are on hold (& I have a  good excuse not to do laundry) for the time being.

In the meantime, Cal has been working on a project that I’m SO excited about – doors! IMG_2705

He thought I was some kind of stupid when I told him I wanted to save these things, but jumped on board after I explained myself. They were in the house when we moved in, and looked bulky and awkward. I want the house to feel open, but they go from the living room into what is our bedroom right now & will eventually be the study, so I didn’t want to ditch a door here completely.

I thought they would be absolutely beautiful with glass in place of the wood panels, so that’s what we’re doing!

Once I explained the project to Calvin, he took point. He is so good at this stuff! He cut out the wood, had the glass company cut the new panels, and has been working all week putting them in so they’re ready for me to paint.

I’m going to frost the glass and paint them white to keep things light and bright. I can’t wait to see what they look like completed!

 

 

Transformation Tuesday – Part Deux

It’s so far off in the distance that it’s almost invisible, but it’s there, I can see it…the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are coming together more quickly than I imagined, but slower than I’d like.

We just hit the 2 month mark of home ownership, and so much has happened in the past 8 weeks. For instance, our dogs have (almost) gotten used to the neighbor’s pup, in that they no longer try to kill each other…Play-date TBD. We learned how to use a charcoal grill and coincidentally learned that grilling utensils are a key component to success – plastic spatulas don’t count. Our home’s value (and the # of friends who want to visit) has probably tripled since the launch of Pokemon Go, thanks to the Pokestop that can be reached from the comfort of our couch.  Last but not least, as of today the upstairs floors are done. Finished. Finito. We’ve made it over the hump – more than 1/2 of the house is up and running(ish). Yay!

Calvin and I have had opposite work schedules lately,  so he gets most of the credit for the finished product. Over the past week, he put down the stain followed by 3 coats of polyurethane while I was at work. They look incredible!

Drum-roll, please:

We tore down the remaining paneling and there are only a few things left to do before it’s time to move in furniture. We’re going to paint the walls, trim, closet and risers, repair the stained ceiling from an old leak, and (possibly) expose our chimney and some ship-lap that we found under the plaster.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like finished. Holy smokes!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Warriors

There’s something wonderful about falling into bed with every fiber of your being exhausted from the day’s endeavors. Things begin to seem a little less wonderful when it’s the 3rd night in a row and your once mildly aching muscles are now screaming from head to toe. I’ve heard rumors that there are 640 muscles in the human body, but  at least twice as many have made their presence known in the last 72 hours.

Let’s recount, shall we?

FRIDAY

The hubs and I kicked off the weekend with some fun by walking Uptown for the evening. On the 4th Friday of each month, there’s a festival full of vendors, live entertainment, and specials at the shops & restaurants. We had dinner at my new favorite spot, AsteRISK. I love the atmosphere there – the walls are lined with shelves of old books of every genre you can imagine. We found a book of brain teasers and had a ball figuring them out together while we waited for our food.  They brought the check to us in an old library book log insert – how adorable? (P.S. The strawberry shortcake is heavenly.)

After dinner, we discovered a little shop called My Cousin’s Closet. It’s a home decor consignment store, which is perfect for a girl like me who has champagne taste and a beer budget.  I found 2 pieces that will fit perfectly in our little fixer upper.

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I found an amazing window table and a unique wine rack. Sarge made a sneak appearance in the picture of the wine rack – his face was too cute to crop out!

SATURDAY

Bright and early, we rented a belt sander, edger and power washer before Calvin went to work. Looking back, we probably should have checked the weather report because it just so happened to be the hottest weekend of the year.

I spent most of the day power washing 1 (you read that right, O-N-E) side of the garage. There was so much algae built up on the side that it took every bit of 8 hours. The transformation is underwhelming at best, but  now it’s 1/4 of the way to being ready for paint. Baby steps!

If you can’t tell, I’m an instant gratification kind of girl. When I don’t see the results quickly, I give up immediately in a nasty, toddler tantrum kind of way. In the future, I’m saving the crappy long term projects for when my hubby, Mr. Perseverance is home to help me push through.

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Once I threw in the towel on the garage, I washed about half of our scrap wood & fencing. This was much more satisfying and now it’s ready to use for some upcoming projects which include, but are not limited to:

  • Dining room bench
  • Outdoor seating
  • Outdoor bar
  • Bedroom doors
  • Planters
  • Kitchen Spice Cabinet
  • Signs
  • Garage organization

Calvin got home from his day job around 6 and we began the real work of sanding the upstairs. We used the shop vac to suck up as much of the remaining paper/glue as we could. It took a few hours to get one round of heavy grit done with both the belt sander and edger. After a 15 hour work day, we fell into bed around to rest up for the full day of work ahead.

SUNDAY

IMG_1312Calvin worked again Sunday, so my mom and her husband came up to help me keep chugging along with the sanding project. Things were slow and steady as we struggled through the triple digit heat, but we didn’t let that stop us.

The darkest spots weren’t coming up with the big sander, and as much as I like the idea of zebra striped floors, I preferred everything to be even. We used the edger to go over the dark places – working with that thing is really awkward and rough on your back – you basically have to bend over and squat down to make sure it keeps moving. It’s laborious, exhausting, and a very effective workout. We used a relay approach wherein each person would sand 1-2 boards then pass it off to the next person. This worked really well and helped us cool down between turns without losing pace.

When Calvin got home in the evening, my mom took off & we remembered our plan to tear down another closet upstairs – Oops. We had intended to do this a little further down the road, but realized that the wood underneath would need to be sanded, so it had to be completed right away.

This added about another hour of work before we could finish up the sanding, but I’m glad we caught it when we did!

All we had to do after that was finish everything off with one round of fine grit sanding and the stairs and risers. Now everything is ready for staining!

Let’s take this Outside

With everything going on inside, I’ve barely commented on the exterior! Have no fear, we’ve been working our tooshies off out there too. Our lot is incredible. It has so much potential, but like everything else we own, it needed some serious TLC.

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BIG Dead tree

There was a massive dead tree looming over the house and power lines, so I (Calvin) called the City of Westerville to assess it for us on a whim. I’m so glad – they ended up cutting it down for free! It made an immediate difference & saved tons of money that I will gladly put towards something more exciting than extra firewood.

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After. What a difference!

Soap and Water came out to wash the exterior of the house, and they did a great job. There’s a section of vinyl siding on the front that needs replaced, but we plan to convert that area back to a porch within the next few years, so we might just live with it until then.

The old shed by the garage was home to more bees, groundhogs, and spiders  I’m comfortable living within a 5 mile radius of – it had to go. Tearing it down was quite comical. During our brief stint as homeowners, we have undoubtedly provided our neighbors with a lifetime worth of free entertainment. We ran into a slight hiccup when Calvin stepped on a nail that went right through his foot..OUCH! What’s a good demo without a few battle wounds, right?

13729045_10154318557775960_1020278513750009765_nAfter that fiasco, we just cleaned everything up by trimming the trees and cutting out the remaining “landscaping.” We got a pole saw that is my new favorite toy – it made things super quick and easy. I love working outside. Projects move much more quickly and I’m not as stressed about the outcome as I am with the inside of the house.

 

Now we have a blank canvas for creating an outdoor entertaining area. This probably won’t be ready to go until next year, but I’m really excited about everything we have planned! We are going to make a a bar out of reclaimed wood from our upstairs closet, a bench out of some fence I got on a late night scavenger hunt (more on that later), and a few other refurbished surprises.

We plan to keep the injuries to a minimum from this point forward, so stay tuned!

 

Movin’ on Up(stairs)

Our whole renovation is one big domino effect. We had to get the downstairs done before we could move in,  we have to get the upstairs done before we can work on the family room, family room before the kitchen, so on and so forth.

It’s been a while since my last update – not for a lack of working on the house, I’ve just been naively holding out for a big before and after transformation. HA. I keep telling myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but having over 1/2 of the house sit empty gives me the jitters.

The upper level started out nice and green, just like the downstairs was a short while ago. (If you want a refresher, here are all of the before pics.) The first thing to go was the closet at the top of the stairs.  I handled this demo and it was fun! Removing the bulky contraption instantly opened up the space, AND we discovered the wood floors continued throughout the upstairs.


This my friends, is where the fun ends.

For the past 3 weeks, we’ve been making our way to the aforementioned floors hiding under 4 layers of Hell. The carpet was easy, but each remaining layer was its own special kind of torture. Cal worked for days with a shovel to get up all of the padding so that we could clearly see the tile underneath. Each tile had to be removed with a sharp utility knife and crowbar to keep them all in tact. This took a long, long, LONG, (did I say long?) time.

Underneath the tile was a tacky layer of  black mastic. We used adhesive remover with a lot of elbow grease and  followed up with a round of  lacquer thinner+steel wool. Remember how long removing the tile took? Yeah, this took longer.

This whole ordeal made our downstairs project look like a walk in the park. We were working in full masks with no AC & 90 degree weather. The rumors are true, people – heat does in fact rise. Calvin lost 13 pounds from all his hard work. (Meanwhile, I looked at a beer and gained 5).

For those of you thinking I’m crazy for doing all of this, I am. However, in my defense, I did look into having everything professionally removed. It was going to cost $1500 and ruin the wood floors – no thanks!

We are FINALLY ready to sand & stain. Our hope is that this part will move much more quickly since we’ve done it before & can iron out the kinks we ran into the first time around.