I certainly hope you all have had time to recover from my last entry. Don't we all wish renovating could be prettier? I really enjoyed reading and very much appreciated all the comments and encouragement. Thank you all!
Well, our current project has been walling up the doorway between the dining room and the laundry room. Back when the house was first built in 77, the laundry room was originally a very tiny kitchen that you entered from a doorless entry in the hallway. You had access to the dining area from another doorless entry at the other side of the "kitchen". When the previous owners remodeled and added on to the house, they converted their tiny kitchen into the current laundry room (their washer and dryer was once in the bathroom as we discovered when we gutted it) and beyond the dining area, built a bigger kitchen, a sunroom, the garage and an unfinished bonus suite and bathroom above the garage. They probably almost doubled the size of the house, fortunately for us:)
But there really is no need for us to access the laundry room from the dining area. The only reason would be because the storage shelves in laundry room have served as our pantry area for years. It would be a little awkward to continue walking through the living room to access our "pantry" via the hallway everytime we cooked a meal. But we plan on building or buying a stand alone pantry for the kitchen to resolve that issue.
In my last entry, you saw a sneak peak of some of the work involved in walling up the doorway. Mainly you just saw the mess, lol...I'll post more project pics as we finish up. It hasn't been very hard so far - removing the folding doors and framing, adding studs, putting up drywall...
Here is where we are right now. The wall is ready to be taped and mudded...and guess who is going to do it? Yours truly! A friend of ours who has a lot of experience with drywall was going to help us, but like hubs, he stays really busy and between them, it's been hard to schedule time to get it done. I'm chomping it to bits to finish the wall so that we can paint, add crown moulding, and paint the ceiling. We're so close! Then we can move on to something else for a change.
Hubs isn't so sure that I can mud the joints and make them look seamless with the rest of the wall, but I think I can do it. We'll just have to wait and see:) So I did a little prepwork today. When the house was first built, the contractors didn't cut the old drywall nice and straight for the doorway framing, so when we butted our nice straight new drywall up against it, there was quite a gap between the two pieces near the top. I had to use a special compound that dries really hard to fill in that gap and a couple of other spaces. Tomorrow, I'll give the joints a little sanding and then start taping and mudding. It's going to take two or three thin coats I do believe.
Oh, do you see my paint colors in the photos? The bottom shade is the primer, the middle shade was my original paint choice, and the top shade is what we'll be going with instead. It's kind of hard to see, but it's kind of a warmer limier-but-not-too-limey green. It will go above white beadboard, which I can't wait to install:)
I don't think I've shared photos of our new washer and dryer yet, so here they are! We LOVE them! Everybody loves doing laundry now. I promise you, for the first few days, hubs would rush home from work and do laundry. I was sure to leave him some things to wash because I can't imagine how disappointed he'd be if I hogged all the dirty laundry for myself. Before our new washer and dryer, we dreaded doing laundry. Our old washer was so loud and "active" , plus we had to run the dryer through two cycles or more before the clothes would dry. Sometimes, if we put clothes in the dryer and forgot about them before we had a chance to run the dryer the second time, the clothes would get stinky and we'd have to wash them all over again. What a pain! I'm really looking forward to remodeling the laundry room someday, too. But for right now, I'm mighty pleased with just having a new washer and dryer!
And did you know that Hubs totally surprised me and had a new dishwasher delivered, too? Our old dishwasher needed a replacement part and we've just been handwashing for the last 3 or 4 months. I've hinted at wanting a new dishwasher to match the other appliances, but I knew we really didn't *have* to have one. So this was a very happy surprise to be sure! BUT, we're having a few issues with it already, unfortunately.
When the Home Depot guys installed it (or I should say, the people Home Depot hired to intall it), they didn't push the black plastic trim (where you bolt the dishwasher to the cabinetry) back far enough and on the right side near the top. The result is that the trim sticks out a quarter of an inch beyond the cabinetry. It looks bad! What is more, when they put the screw in, they didn't screw it straight but at an angle near the surface, which caused the wood to buckle and crack. The plastic trim also cracked and is sticking out. They sent someone else out to look at it and he said they needed to replace the trim and that he'd be back the next day to it. Next day, he called hubs in the late afternoon to say he was on his way but he never showed. And he didn't come the next day or the next either. It has now been more than a week since the dishwasher was (badly) installed. Plus no word on what is going to be done about the damaged wood.
We're also not happy with the way the dishwasher looks at the bottom. It just looks so raw and unfinished like something should cover those holes. Our old diswasher had a panel there but we were told this is how our new one is suppose to look. I'm supposing they were designed like this with the idea that a kickplate or something would be installed across the screw holes or maybe this model is for more of a custom built-in area? I don't know. Hubs and I are both perplexed. Oh, and also, the hard plastic backing on the control panel keeps peeling/popping up. It just won't lay flat. I told hubs we should just try and get Home Depot to replace the whole thing. He snapped all these photos you've seen here to take to the management in person - so we'll see how that goes. I feel bad for Hubs because the dishwasher was his special surprise for me and now we're having so many problems with it.
We got the girls' hardwood flooring ordered and now just need the time to go and pick it up...and we've ordered all the pine doors for the house from South Eastern Salvage - YAY!
I hope you all are doing well!
I certainly hope you all have had time to recover from my last entry. Don't we all wish renovating could be prettier? I really enjoyed reading and very much appreciated all the comments and encouragement. Thank you all!
Don't get me wrong, I think it's incredibly sweet when folks write and tell me that my home is so lovely and pretty. But at the same time, I kind of shudder at the thought because, you see, it's not. Our completed projects like the red cabinets and the new windows and french doors in the kitchen, the painted living room and...(*gulp* I think that's it so far!), did turn out nicely and I'm really happy with the results, but I'm truly not joking when I say this place is a "glorified shack" and not very easy on the eyes (or my emotional well-being!). I have to work really hard at not getting extremely depressed here and let's face it - sometimes despite my best efforts, I'm ready to throw in the towel and move. Not that we could actually ever sell the place in it's current state. There is so, so, SO much left to do and with hubs being a busy manager at his company and with our life outside renovating, things get done around here very slowly. I know *now* that when we start anything around here, no matter how small of a project, it will literally take weeks, if not months, to complete. That's our reality, lol, and I'm trying to deal with it as best as I can. Some days I just hate this place and other days I'm thankful to have dry place to lay my head at night.
So moving on...thank you to all who have complimented my home in the past and I'm really sorry that I'm about to majorly disappoint you with these photos, lol. I can say, though, that I truly believe that their is potential in anything - from people to neighborhoods to houses. What I do have going for me is that I can *see* what the house is going to look like when finished. My frustration stems from not being able to bring my visions to fruition say...yesterday! I'm tired of the dirt and dust and ugliness. I'm tired of packing away all my thrifty Goodwill finds until I can use them. I'm tired of the gutted bathroom and looking at studs around every corner. I want a completed house so that I can...bake or sew or something fun!!! (Patting myself on the back while saying, "Patience, my dear...Patience!")
Ok, this first photo is from our storage/sunroom. It's basically a porch with lots of sliding doors. This is where we keep our computer and I freeze my booty off in the winter and sweat like a pig in the summer. What you are seeing is water damage caused by heavy rain the first week we moved into the house. The previous owner gave us $4000 to fix the roof, but wouldn't you know, the central heat and air stopped working the day after we moved in, so we used the "roof money" to replace the heat and air unit. We had to wait a few months to fix the roof, but fortunately, this was the only spot in the house that sustained damage. See all those cobwebs. I know, I know. The ceilings in here are very tall and I haven't yet been motivated to drag the ladder in to clean.
Here you can get a glimpse of how high the ceilings are. There use to be skylights up there but we opted to have them removed because they were improperly installed and not that attractive. When we get around to this room, we'll have to redo the ceiling completely. There are beadboard panels up there right now. I think this would make a great little craft studio, personally. Lots of light in here! See, there's me being positive about an icky room...Yay, me!
This is the threshold between the kitchen and the sunroom stoop/steps. Gotta love that old lino and berber combination. This will all be seamless hardwood when we do the kitchen floor.
*Sigh* This is the lovely threshold between the kitchen and the living room. There use to be berber in the living room, but we pulled it all up and sealed the plywood up with paint until we install the flooring. Can you imagine all the dust that would settle into carpet during a whole house renovation?
"My, ain't it purdy!" *sniff* The contrast between the green primer on the kitchen walls and the yellow living room walls is atrocious in this shot. We'll be adding beadboard halfway up in the kitchen, dining, hallway, AND living room for a more cohesive look. I didn't think I would add it to the living room, too, but I think I've changed my mind.
When you walk into our front door, this is what you see. I find myself apologizing profusely to every soul that comes in. "We're renovating! Excuse the mess!" Those rugs are such a pain and are very unsightly, but they look a little better than the bare white floors that seem to attract dirt like a magnet.
No shiny white pristine baseboards in this house. No baseboards at all!
Here is the entryway. There is no door trim in our house either, lol. We will be removing the coat closet completely and building a built in shelving unit/desk in it's place. The popcorn ceiling will be replaced with the same ceiling treatment in our kitchen, pine planks painted white.
I hate hollow doors.
This is the tile in our entryway. It's the very same tile that was on our fireplace surround. These tiles will go when we put down hardwood.
Oh, yeah...a little glimpse into the kinds of messes we make around here. Messes like this, even after cleaned up, create messes like....
THIS! See all the dust on the ceiling fan and the popcorn ceiling in the living room? I can hear every tidy housewife across the globe gasping collectively right now. I know. I have to bring in the big (12 foot) ladder to clean it all. The 6-footer only gets me so far. This is another reason why I hate popcorn ceilings. They will be replaced with pine planks just like the kitchen, and a new beam will be installed. We took down the old beam when we mudded the living room walls.
From the living room, you get a great view of our currently very scary hallway. It's so dark and depressing. Hopefully, though, the changes we make to it will be very dramatic. We'll be raising the ceiling from 7 feet to 8 feet high and installing pine planks (once again, down with the popcorn!), replacing the ugly light fixture, installing solid pine six panel doors, adding white beadboard halfway up, and painting the wall above the beadboard the same shade of cheery yellow that we have in the living room. And of course, we'll be putting down our flooring in the hallway, too.
This is the bathroom door. We moved it down the hall about 18 inches to create a nook in the bathroom for the toilet. We put off doing the drywall work until we officially get around to working on the hallway ceiling and walls.
The right side of the bathroom door...The electrical junction box use to be here but hubs moved it to the laundry room. It looks much better hidden, but the hole it left in the hallway wall is quite unattractive right now.
A shot to show you just how low the ceiling is in our cave-of-a-hallway. Hopefully raising it a foot will make a huge difference in how the hall feels.
Hubs is going to love me for posting this photo, hehe. But I was trying to capture what our dining room normally looks like (and provide proof that we really do work on the place!). Piles of renovation material everywhere...Hubs was working on walling up the doorway between the dining room and laundry room.
Just another shot to show how we don't have any trim. It's very unpleasant to see. Kind of like looking at someone without eyebrows.
Well, that's all I've photographed though I assure you that there are many more ugly parts to our home. Don't forget that our bathroom is gutted and we haven't even touched the bedrooms yet. I don't think the girls' temporary bedroom makeover counts because it was just make-do-for-overnight-guests-till-we-get-around-to-doing-it-right. Oh, and then there's the exterior....OH, the exterior! I don't even want to think about it.
I hope that in some twisted way,LOL, you've enjoyed these. I will enjoy looking at them, too, *after* our projects are completed and we can do a before and after comparison. Thanks so much for joining us on this crazy journey we call home renovation!
May 2008 UPDATE: Yes, ever so slowly, things are improving here in our little home sweet home:) Here are a few "progress" photos that were taken of our kitchen, living room, and hallway since this post was originally written. Maybe there is hope yet?
"It's so good to see you again! But tell me, how long are you planning on sticking around? Every year it seems that just as soon as you get here, you disappear just as quickly as you arrive? Why is that?"
Every renovator out there knows the answer to that question. In our household, anyway, our tax refund money is spoken for a whole year in advance. Last year, we bought flooring for the kitchen, living room, and hallway - and pine planks for some of the ceilings. We really wanted to get a new washer and dryer as ours are very, very old and cantankerous. Our washer literally tries to escape from the laundry room every time we use it. Seriously. One morning I'm going to wake up and find it eating breakfast in the kitchen. But...our refund budget didn't allow us to buy a replacement washer and dryer last year. You can bet, though, that it was at the top of our list year!
Though I've been really excited about getting a new washer and dryer, I was less than excited about actually shopping for a set. Because our old set is so...old, anything - anything at all will suit me just fine. As long as it's extra large capacity and front loading and stays put, I really don't care what we buy. Hubs, however, being the great researcher and comparison shopper he is, put a lot of time and energy into finding just the right washer and dryer at just the right price. He really knew better than to try and take me comparison shopping with him. All the numbers, the models, the features just totally overwhelmed me. Like a moth to light, I was only interested and drawn to the shiny and colorful models (figures). I nearly swooned after seeing the Wild Cherry LG washer and dryer. *drool* I just wanted to hug that washer and dryer in all it's red and chrome goodness. But even I knew that paying an extra $300-$400 for a color other than white just wasn't making practical use of our tight budget. I told hubs to just buy whatever he wanted. He ordered a white GE and it will be delivered on Saturday - yee haw! Our old washer is going to a bachelor friend. His current washer has gone through a form of appliance menopause (it no longer has a spin cycle), which means he has to wring out his clothes before putting them into the dryer - ugh!
The rest of our tax money this year will go to buying solid wood interior doors, oil-rubbed bronze knobs, and hardwood flooring for the kids' rooms. I was really hoping we'd have enough to go ahead and get the flooring for our masterbedroom, too, but it may have to wait until next year.
For any of you that live in the South East, it may be worth your time to take a trip to Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium in Chattanooga, Birmingham, Chesapeake, Cincinnati, Mobile, or Shreveport. They have the best products and prices for home building and renovating materials. At Lowes or Home Depot, we were looking at paying between $165 - $200 per solid pine six panel wood door. At South Eastern Salvage, we'll custom order our doors and they'll make them for us out of solid Brazilian Pine - for $98 any size! They come with hinges that match the oil-rubbed bronze finish knobs I want to use. To get that particular finish at Lowes or Home Depot, we would have been charged extra. Their oil-rubbed bronze door knobs are from $4 to $12 each and you just can't beat that! So we're pretty excited about this resource. We bought our porcelian tile for the bathroom there a while back and saved heaps of money.
I promise that the next entry I make will be the one about our "Ugly House Vignettes". You may want to skip it if you're especially sensitive to such disturbing viewing material, lol. It sure ain't gonna be pretty.
By the way, the Carl Larsson painting at the top called "An Evening by the Lamp". I love it because it pictures a small space packed with homey furniture, especially the extra large coffee table filled with newspapers, books, and other things. That's the way our coffee table stays, it seems! The next painting is called "Cottage in the Snow". Just lovely!
Off to work on some craft projects now!
**Edited to add: View pages and pages of Carl Larsson's artwork here. I've linked to a few paintings in a paragraph below as well.**
I admit it...as much as I love color and creativity and expression, I'm really, really , really picky about the art that I display in my home. The color and style has to be just right and the mood the piece of art creates is just as important. Because I am so picky, I don't have very much art in my home:( But let me tell you, that will change once we are past all this dreadful remodeling because I have discovered a very talented Swedish artist, Carl Larsson (1853-1919) that has absolutely captured my heart.
Many of you may have already heard of him, but it wasn't until last night when I found a book about him (under piles of kids books at Goodwill) that I was introduced to his work. The book I found has little text and is filled with about 30 of his paintings - full 8 X 11 inch pages with no printing on the backs of them (perfect for pulling out to have matted and framed!). OH MY GOODNESS! No other artist that I know has captured most of the things that I hold dear in my life...home, children, simplicity, creativity, color...From what I've learned, he and his wife Karin (who was also and artist and textile designer) have been called the creators of Swedish design. Their colorfully and imaginately decorated small two story cottage really stood out among the very prim and proper Victorian homes of the time. According to the official Carl Larsson website, "Carl and Karin formed and furnished this house according to their own very special artistic taste and also the needs of their growing family."
They had eight children and really treated them much differently than Victorian children of the time were treated. They were the children of artists, so I would expect that to be true! "Meals were important to the Larsson family. The adults did not eat by themselves; they wanted the children around them. This surprised a number of visitors who were used to adults and children having separate lives. There are stories of the merry dinners, of gossiping with the neighbours over coffee and of card games during the dark winter evenings. Carl and Karin had brought home to Sweden, the French habit of remaining a long time at the dinner table for conversation."
If you look on his website, you'll see a few photos of their sweet little home. It is left today nearly exactly the way it was when they lived there. In the dining room, you'll find red chairs. "In our day the bright colours in the Dining Room may not seem so sensational. But contemporary writers had a lot to say about the "raw" colours, and indeed about the red chairs the Larssons had ordered from carpenter Arnbom in Sundborn." I read also, that just because a piece of furniture had been made in 1694, that didn't stop him from painting it - which during that time, just wasn't done! I have a feeling that color ran through his veins.
His paintings that I love so are the ones from his family life...just simple yet very detailed vignettes around their home. It is kind of eerie and surreal, in a way, to view his paintings and then view actual photos of their home because nothing really has changed. The rooms are the same - the furniture, the walls...everything. The only thing missing from the photos are the children and his wife that now only live in the rooms of the paintings.
"In the summer of 1894 it had rained for six straight weeks. "I went about in an insufferable mood", Carl Larsson wrote. Karin then suggested that he should sketch a few pictures of their home to cure his impatience." So this is how it all began - this series of books about his family and home. His books have been called the "Internet" of their time because they are so real and raw and gave a real view into their family life.
And, oh, how the colors are exquisite! You see, all the colors in his paintings are the colors that I long to incorporate into my own "cottage" - the reds, the greens, the yellows, and even some blue. So you can understand why I fell in love the moment I found this book hiding under a pile of books at Goodwill.
There is a painting, "Homework" of his children sitting at the table doing homework, another - "The Kitchen" portrays two of his girls in the kitchen churning butter while their kitten plays in the corner and the breeze blows up the sheer curtains on the open window, "Flowers on the Windowsill" pictures a daughter watering plants on the windowsill with mother's ball of yarn and knitting needles on the table, one of "Breakfast Under the Big Birch"...the whole family, including the dog, eating together at a big table outside, one entitled "Brita's Forty Winks" - the baby sleeping under a cozy red blanket in her cradle, "Shelling Peas" - the children helping with food preparation, one called "When the Children Have Gone to Sleep" which pictures Karin and Carl enjoying quiet time by lamplight, he reading the paper, she working on her needlework, "Hide and Seek" shows one of the adorable children at play, "A Lazy Corner" - I just want to curl up on that sofa!
There are so many of these sweet and charming little vignettes - I could just fall over! You know how in our time, we go about our homes clicking photos of our family and this and that, and are eager to share them with others? Well, that's what Carl Larssons paintings were all about. And I just can't wait to display them in my home...just knowing that this precious family and all the painted vignettes actually existed - and somehow still exist through the paintings.
I want to share some of these paintings with you but have run out of time! I'll have more later...until then, enjoy learning more about Carl Larsson on his website:)
You may have noticed that my link resource list is getting longer and longer. I just can't help it. I've been finding such wonderful cottage and/ or country design blogs lately and the beautiful photos are so inspiring. Who needs magazine subscriptions when you can lay your eyes on fresh design photos from across the globe every day? You know, I need to have a weekly or monthly post where I post about my newly added links. I want to spotlight every one of them!
Today, I'm going to focus on a few international blogs of note, specifically European blogs. It's so refreshing to know that women around the world love the charm of cottage and country living as much as the rest of us. What I've noticed in most of the European blogs I've visited is that often their style is very clean and very simply, with oh-so-subtle use of color. Many only use shades of white, which I find very refreshing! I wish I could pull that off here, lol, but I'm such a color junkie. It would be wonderful to enjoy the best of both worlds, so maybe when we redo our bedroom, I'll go all white! At any rate, these blogs and photos are a great resource and are so creative and inspiring. Bookmark these, study them, and be sure to go back in their archives so you don't miss any of the gorgeous photos. Better than I magazine, I tell ya! Also, don't be shy about leaving a comment on international blogs even if they are written in another language. If you can't read their entries, you can always comment on the photos themselves, and the blog owner can often translate your comments themselves or via an online translator. You can also try to translate thier pages online, but I know this doesn't work too well with the Swedish language for some reason.
Ok, so here we go...in no particular order. These are just a few. There are *sooo* many more out there! Make yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee and give yourself some time to pour over these sites:)
Spets och Snor - Run, don't walk, to this blog, and look at all her entries. She just started blogging in January, so now is a good time to start keeping up with her!
I Min Vackr Varld Just lovely!
Jenny's Home A dream of a country home:) Another thing I notice about all these sweet homes is that they have such beautiful, natural looking flooring.
L'Armoire De Suzanne A great resource!
For the Love of Country Anna is such a sweetie and has an excellent eye for country and vintage decor. You have to bookmark this site for sure!
La Maison de Jehannell Just yummy! Her home has stone walls and beautiful cobblestone tile floors...so old European country!
Lines Verden I think this blogger is renovating her house as well. She's doing a great job so far:)
Mias Landliv Simply charming!
Vintage House Another must see...ah, her home just makes me feel happy!
Vita Hem Beautiful and inspiring photos galore...
La Cabane de Violette Her needlework is incredible, especially her ribbon work.
!Vardagsrummet Lots of charming country goodness to be found here!
An Angel at My Table More charming style and renovation projects!
Designe She accents her home with the color I love - Red!
Et a Part Ca? (I'm sorry I left out the accent marks...I need to learn how to add them) Such wonderful photography and creativity!
Yvestown Yvonne is about to have her home photographed for a magazine - it surely is magazine worthy:)
Wel, these are only but a few of the myriads cottage / country international blogs out there. It's so neat to be able to branch out and get a taste of European old-fashion design. I hope you enjoy these sites as much I am - and if you know of others, please let me know!
Well, I can't believe it. We finally got snow! It is all melted by now, but we got a good coating (perhaps an inch, lol!) on Friday and it stuck around for a day. How pretty it was! Here are a couple of shots of both our backyard and our front. I honestly didn't think we'd get any snow this year, so this was a pleasant surprise.
I love the snow but I hate the cold. I really wish I could just hibernate right through winter - and OH how I'm looking forward to spring! Tonight, finally, donning a heavy long wool coat, scarf, gloves, and slippers, I headed to the office to work on some photos for this entry. I realize it's been about a week since my last entry, and I still have lots of "ugly house" photos to post - and there is so much more to write about, but I decided to use my time in the freezer to upload some warmer, sunnier photos:)
Don't you just LOVE 50% off days at Goodwill? Saturday was such a day. I didn't buy many house related things (though hubs cleaned up in the suit department!) but I'm so pleased with the little things that I found.
Okay, I'm not using real eggs again for this little photo series. But you know how I recently said I'd love to find some "faux" eggs? Well, I found them! These are ceramic eggs and very real looking...I only wish I could have found more:) They are so sweet and probably my favorite find this week. I don't know why I'm on such an egg kick as of late, hehe.
I also found this plain little tin box. I thought it might make a great recipe box. I may paint it and distress it. Wouldn't it be fun to create pretty little recipes cards and recipe dividers for such a special little box?
I'm really excited about this old pitcher I found. I couldn't believe my eyes! If you're like me, you may peruse the household aisles at Goodwill a couple of times while you're in the store just in case they put out anything new when you weren't looking, lol. This was one of those instances. I believe this pitcher is really old - but I'm not an expert. There are no markings on the bottom, so I can't be sure, and there is lots of crazing - which I love. It's about 15 inches tall. In the past I've looked for old pitchers on Ebay and boy, they sure are they expensive! I paid a whopping $3 for this one!
On January 31, hubs and I had our 14 year wedding anniversary and he gave me the beautiful flowers seen in the photos. I wish they could last forever, but for now, I'm enjoying seeing them in my Goodwill pitcher:)
You've recently seen two of the Goodwill throw pillows to the right(the floral and the diamond pattern) but this weekend I found another really nice coordinating pillow (shown on the far left). It's a soft red velvet with a feather down removable insert. Just $2!
And lastly, hubs found for me (as a joke) these vintage colorful patchwork...pants. Yes - pants. Seriously, I would wear these if they fit, lol! I thought perhaps I could make them into something else - or lose 15 pounds. I just love that crazy patchwork:)
THank you all for your comments on my last entry:) It's nice to know that others have survived the dust and mess of remodeling. Thank you for sharing your experiences and well wishes!