Friday, January 29, 2010

Kitchen Appliance Ideas

When we moved from NYC to Michigan, we met with a real estate agent and she asked us what we were looking for in our apartment, and I swear to you the ONLY thing that I said was:
"a dishwasher"

And she laughed and laughed.  She laughed because (presumably) everyone has a dishwasher, right?
not in Brooklyn.  I washed dishes for 2 years by hand (aren't I such a pioneer) and when we moved to Michigan I was SOOO excited and loaded up our dishwasher only to find out that our dishwasher didn't work.  It was broken and I was heart broken, and then it took 3 MONTHS for our apartment complex to fix it.  Now that means that I finally got my dishwasher in November, and as you know we moved to our house in January, where we discovered that....

The dishwasher does not work.

So all of you Michiganders who laughed at me when all I ever wanted was a dishwasher should know that I still don't have one.

In order to keep the cabinetry (which we like) we're going to replace the appliances at the same size they currently are... so that means we're looking for a 24" dishwasher,  energy efficient, stainless steel.
Here's what I'm thinking:


It's a Kenmore Stainless Steel 24" Built-in Dishwasher w/ Smart Wash Cycle 1389 Energy Star! (and yes I feel very much like this when I read that outloud) It retails at approximately $550.  We could easily get a lovely dishwasher for under $300 if we decided to go with white rather than stainless.  This is something that we'll have to consider as we move forward.  One of the things that I really like about this is that the buttons are at the top-- not visible and tucked away from the tiny hands which will eventually leave fingerprints all over it.

And now the fridge

Pretty, right?  Kenmore Stainless Steel 25 cu. ft Non-Dispensing Side by Side Refrigerator (energy star)
About $1200.  Again, if we go with a top freezer, then we can get under $1000, but this is a dream-inspiration-kitchen post so I won't go there yet.  We'll see what reality forces us to buy-- but the truth is that we have a working fridge, so perhaps we just wait and save and get exactly what we want.

The range:

Kenmore Stainless Steel w/ Black 30 in. Gas Self Clean Slide-in Range with Convection Cooking.
around $1300.  Again-- I really like it's... flatness.... the controls are there at the top (and they're lockable for babyproofing) and the oven would sit flush with the wall which appeals to me.  The Convection Cooking option?  I know nothing about this "convection cooking" but it can't hurt to have options, can it?  maybe it will make me the speediest most wonderful cooker in the world? who knows? 

From the comfort of the internet on my couch, I think these three items are really quite lovely.  Why Kenmore?  Because the internet tells me so.  Why Stainless?  Because it's shiny and bright.  
What will we do? Probably get the dishwasher in the next few months, and then replace the other appliances as we are able.

There will be more kitchen inspiration posts-- tile backsplash, flooring options (I think we have wood underneath our linoleum, so we may just go with that!) cabinet hardware... all forthcoming.  

In the meanwhile, I ask you:

Will we regret not having an in-door water/ice dispenser?

Is Stainless steel really very difficult to keep clean?  should we just go with white?  The total cost of stainless appliances is around $3000.  If we go with the same appliances in white, it would be approximately $700-$800 less.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And then life started again

I've had so much to tell you so far and now....

Well now, we're both teaching a bunch, and on top of that Drake may be away on a gig for much of February! (more soon)   So just when you thought we had all the momentum in the world and would breeze through the whole house before the baby arrived we have to take a step back.

From my point of view it's tricky--  I'm a handy lady-- I could do some work while Drake is gone, but then there's the whole noxious fumes and dangerous tools and poor balance... Again, no one wants to see pregnant ladies on ladders.  So!  I think I'll take the next little while to plan everything.

And now I shall list the things that need planning:
1. The kitchen-choosing appliances, colors, tile backsplash, countertops, flooring
2. The bedroom- choosing furniture, a new queen sized mattress, bedding, colors
3. Downstairs bathroom- choosing wallpaper (yes, wallpaper) colors
4. Laundry room- Choosing wallpaper (again! wallpaper!)

Do any of you have feelings about kitchen appliances?  have you researched them? do you love yours?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Reveal: Dining Room Now

So yesterday we left you with Drake scraping and painting our dining room, which you'll remember looked like this.  Here he is removing the under layer of paper last weekend.  This was back when he was happy, before the oil-based primer burned his eyes and nose.


After choosing the fabric, we decided that we would go with a neutral wall color-- we went with a very very light cream color, and are planning on popping some color in with accessories and such.  The fabric is VERY modern and graphic.  I am re-considering its appropriateness for drapes, although I unabashedly love it for the chairs.

But!  This is a Before and Now Post, so let's get to it:
before:
lovely Asian Fan, some country florals

now
French Circus print! Modern Graphics!


before

now

before

now

And another:



You'll have to ignore the water stain ring marks on the table for now.  Armed with all of the tips that the internet has to offer, I will tackle that one soon (with mayonnaise.  it's true!  google it)

Are the curtains overwhelming?

Here is the number one most wonderful thing that they do:


before

now

They somehow managed to make the existing chandelier work really well!

Still to do:
Floors need to be refinished, and a few more colorful accessories and art need to be added.  Here are some of the things I'm thinking about:

Also this rug:



Thinking about some red coral accents (sculptural pieces of coral)

Thinking about featuring some artwork from vintage tobacco cards.  Do you know about the New York Public Library's Digital Gallery?  You should.  It's amazing and it's where I found lovely things like these Gilbert and Sullivan collectors cards:



Or these lovely circus ones (I LOVE circuses):



Perhaps I'm also thinking about a rich solid velvet drape... perhaps I'm thinking about it because it's the chilly winter time, perhaps because I feel slightly overwhelmed by the fabric right now... I'm imagining it  in another room entirely actually.  I'm imagining it having something to do with this.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So by now you may have figured out...

... that all though the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of doing the nursery next, we didn't actually do that.  We did the dining room.  We still have the troublesome problem of not knowing which room will be the nursery, and until we decide that, we can't go about decorating anything.

And so the dining room!  You've already seen the chairs and so you have an idea of what we're working on.  The big "before and now" reveal goes up tomorrow, but until then here's a little report from Drake:


Saturday I was thinking that I could get up and quickly knock out the painting of the dining room.  We woke up early and headed to Home Depot looking for primer.  We checked with the paint specialist and he recommended a 5 gallon tub of Kilz oil-based primer for 19 dollars.   The latex primer was between $50-$70 for a 5 gallon tub, but he assured us that it wasn't really any different.  How could we go wrong?!

I got back home and began to prepare the wall for print.   Upon further inspection, it turned out that during last weekend's wall paper stripping I had left more remnants than I thought.  So I cleaned the walls, puttied the cracks and holes, removed the outlet and socket covers, got rid of the remaining contact paper (from the wallpaper borders that were EVERYWHERE), sanded and taped, and it was 4 hours later.  No kidding.  We watch a lot of HGTV here now, so while I was prepping for paint I listened to Mike Holmes tear apart and reveal a whole a new house, saw two rooms redesigned for less than 1000 dollars each (like that is cheap!), and heard the new Australian guy mention how much he wanted to make an Asian style garden.  My two cents, he is pretty annoying.   I didn't even get started priming until early afternoon.

Priming was a surprise.   I was only familiar with the latex paints that we had used last week, so this oil based paint was a surprise.   And now I know why people use latex paints.  We went back to Home Depot the next day and bought a 5 gallon tub of latex primer.  Enough said.

Well, eventually the walls were primed, my nose and eyes were stinging, and it was time for a break.  I head out the shed for some more work (more on that later) and waited for the paint to dry.   A little while later I got back in and painted two coats on the dining room walls, and we are in business.   Stay tuned for the exciting updates on the dining room with no Asian Fan, no farm wallpaper, freshly painted walls, new cushions for the chairs, new drapes, and new accessories.   A whole new world, new fantastic point of view….

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reupholstering the Dining Room Chairs

I've always heard that it's an easy job, but have never had a dining room let alone a dining room set.

We purchased this one (table four chairs and sideboard) from the gentleman who sold us this lovely house....





We figured that recovering the chairs would be a quick design fix.  we wanted to go with something graphic and modern to juxtapose the very traditional set, so I went to Haberman's Fabric.  (Cannot praise that store enough, so I'll just do a separate post on that.)  And came away with two really excellent options...



One would be curtains, one would be seat covers and perhaps also napkins, or runners or quelquechose....  Things went a bit differently than I had imagined, but that will all be revealed in time (on Friday, actually, when we post the new Dining Room photos!)

But here's how we did it.

I went and bought some 2 inch high density foam, so that we'd be nice and comfy when seated at extended dinner parties, then it was just a matter of cutting squares that are large enough to wrap around to the bottom of the piece to staple in place. (no need for perfect measure, since this part will never be seen.)




Then I stapled it....



Then Drake decided that it looked like I was exerting myself too much and finished the four chairs.
And they now look like this :)

(sorry... a bit fuzzy)

Makes such a difference in the room! And seriously the easiest home improvement project that we've tackled so far.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Killer Icicles, or please don't visit us.

I am currently sitting in my living room waiting for the arrival of one of our first guests!  It has snowed a great deal and the house is sitting atop a mountain of snow, and a mountain of snow is sitting atop the house....


I have a broom at the ready, in order to pull our guest up the stairs which are totally covered in ice. We have salted, but there's no stopping it--we need to redo the entire gutter system, which will happen in the spring, but until then we are threatened daily with...



Killer icicles!!



Three tiers of them in some cases!
It's really quite terrifying, and we hope that you are not planning to chance your life and visit us.... We promise that next winter, our doorways will be clear and open and inviting, and the only unusual thing that you will see when you visit in the winter is...



Pope/Gnome St. Francis!  Hee... look at his funny snow hat.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Hanging pictures

Just read a great post over at Brooklyn Limestone about a technique for hanging a gallery wall, or a group of framed items.  I did this without a tutorial over at our apartment...



Not quite as elegant, but it worked for a few months.  (Here's where all the labels are explained) Wherever this ends up in the new house will definitely get the star treatment outlined in this tutorial.   I share Mrs. Limestone's concerns about nailing into plaster walls-- I've gotten ready to hang art in the Living Room about a million times, and each time my Memere's voice rings in my ears warning me not to put holes in the walls.

I've gotten a couple of different items to try at the Hardware store, some self adhesive hooks as well as the OOK Pro picture hanging set



It "Will Not Damage Your Walls!"  One tip that I've read over and over again is to put scotch tape over the spot on the wall that you plan to put the nail in order to help prevent plaster cracks.

An update on hung art (with or without damage) will be forthcoming!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not to beat a dead horse

She's already been featured on COUNTLESS blogs this week-- including heavy hitters Apartment Therapy and one of my personal faves Young House Love.  If you haven't seen it already, please let me introduce you to....
Ana White of Knock off Wood.
see this?

image from Pottery Barn


She'll show you how to make it.

This?


image from Pottery Barn

yup this too.  

And sooo much more!  I spent most of the Colts/Ravens game imagining all of this furniture in our house.... The daybed above will go in the guest room/office.  The recycling center will go in the kitchen, so that it will no longer look like this:




ah sweet recylcing center,  you will soon be ours.  Right after we finish painting....(and by "we" I mean Drake)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Floor Plan Second Floor

OK, this is a long one but stick with me, because we really really need your help.  We still haven't set up ANY bedroom furniture, because we truly can't decide to do with the layout.

So here's what we've got...



And now the dilemma.  Just glancing at it, it seems obvious that the Third Bedroom would be the master, since it is the largest and has an attached half bath.  However.... it looks like this:


so sad.  so plaid.

And there are two functional issues-- not necessarily problems, but issues
1. The Third Bedroom is attached to the Second, and the only way to the main staircase and full bath are through the Second Bedroom.  We can't get rid of (wall in) the connecting door because then there is no other access for the Third Bedroom to the rest of the second floor (and the only shower in the house). 
2. There's a weird staircase in the Third Bedroom that leads down to the laundry room...

 
So, let's imagine for a moment that the room is not not plaid, that it's some lovely shade of otherness.  Let's also take into account the two issues mentioned above.  We need a Master Bedroom, a Nursery and a Guestroom and here are the options as I see them:

Option 1: Third Bedroom is the Master, Second Bedroom is the Nursery and the First is a guestroom
Pros: 
  • Master and Nursery are attached
  • Master has attached half bath
Cons:
  • We have to deal with the plaid immediately
  • No closet in Master Bedroom
Option 2: Third Bedroom is the Guestroom, Second is the Master, First is the Nursery
Pros:
  • When there are no guests, we can leave the door open and have a "Master Suite."  We can use the guest bedroom (2nd BR) as a multi-purpose room, for a study/sitting room.  
  • We have the biggest closet in the Master
Cons:
  • Guests could enter their room through the strange staircase (above, which we would refinish) but would have to go through our room to use the shower (there's no shower in the downstairs bath.)
Option 3: First Bedroom is the Master, Second is the Nursery, Third is the Guest Room
Pros: 
  • Master is the prettiest bedroom :) Three large windows, large closet.
  • Master doesn't have another bedroom attached to it, more private.
  • When/if we have more children, this will inevitably become the layout, so that their rooms are attached.
Cons:
  • Master has no attached bath.
  • Guest Room is attached to baby's room.  (problematic if baby isn't a good sleeper)
  • Half bath will hardly ever be used (except when guests are there.)
HELP!
Any thoughts?  Where would you rather sleep when you come stay with us?  Leave us a comment and let us know :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Floor Plan First Floor

I found a fun tool....
Floorplanner is an online bit of software that let's you build your house and input all of your measurements, windows, doors, etc.  Armed with a measuring tape, I measured the whole house last night!  I was only able to "build" the first floor in time to post, but expect to see the second floor very soon.

I'm hoping that after posting the second floor, you all will be able to help us figure out where we ought to sleep... it's also the only way that you'll ever get to see the Nursery.  We can't very well paint and decorate it if we don't know where it will be!

But onto the first floor....


There you have it!  So now as you click through the various rooms, you'll be able to map them out mentally.  I'll call your attention to the enormous laundry room.  You'll notice that it's almost as large as the kitchen, which begs the question... couldn't it be something ELSE??

Right now in an effort to maximize space, we're doubling it up as an office area.  But if we take down the wall between the laundry room and the kitchen (this one) it could be a pretty fabulously big open kitchen, where everyone could gather during parties and we could build in a mud room which would make a HUGE difference.  The back door of the house enters to the kitchen, and is currently covered in salt and mud and disgustingness at all times.  We can't help it!  there's nowhere to put our snowy boots :(

Another option is to turn it into a fourth (guest) bedroom-- there's this closet which I love... AND we both live so far away from our families, and we want them to visit a LOT, so we would love to have a room on the ground floor where they can come and stay as much as possible.

Any thoughts?  What would you do?  Which option do you think would increase our property value more?  If you were buying a house, would you rather it have four bedrooms, or a really big and fabulous modern kitchen (keep in mind that if it had four bedrooms, it would still (eventually) have a fabulous modern kitchen, it would just be smaller, not big and open.)  Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Nursery Inspiration

I should've guessed that if I put it to a vote, then we'd have to work on the Nursery next!  I know that voting hasn't *officially* closed yet, but in light of the current available data....



1. Dwell Studio for Target Silverlake Convertible Crib (2nd edition).  Very modern looking, and functional with the two drawers beneath.

2. Dwell Studio for Target Silverlake Changing Table.  Again, I just really like the clean look of it.

3. Dwell Studio for Target 3 piece crib set in "Zoo."  So adorable!  This is the one element that we already posess, many thanks to this lovely lady :)

4. Sheepskin rug (just so soft, and I would like to squish it beneath my toes)

5. Verona 2 shelf Storage with 6 baskets.  For toy storage and the like.


Also this!  It wasn't available when I made the first little graphic, but here it is, and I love it.  Also, I figure that the tripod design of it will provide a little extra stability.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunroom renovation Part 1


Like many first time homeowners, we have many lofty renovation plans, and not the slightest idea how to execute any of them or what on earth to expect in terms of timelines and expectations.  We have been advised by many to be patient and take things one room at a time, so naturally we have already started projects in almost every room, and hoped to finish the sunroom (a quick project, after all) in one day. hee.


The first real snag of our process came rather quickly. We had dreams of ripping down the fabric hanging from the sun room roof...


















spackeling the holes in the wall, painting over the spackeled holes, and having the room finished today. Not even close.

First, the holes in the room. The gentleman who owned the home before us had used the sun room as a storage place for hats. By that I mean he had screwed hooks into the walls to hang his hats. Lots and 
lots of hats.
 I (Drake) had to putty in the holes for a good 30-45 minutes.


Next, the ceiling. I went to pull down the fabric, figuring it would come down and a few fasteners would have to be removed. Wrong. Instead, the fasteners were under some moulding and would not come out cleanly.


After looking closer, it became apparent that the moulding was not not even around the room, and in fact in some places it was 2 x4s. So, I decided to take it all down, but the process took quite a while. And I stepped on a nail. Ouch.



After removing the moulding/ 2x4s and the fabric, I looked at the ceiling and decided to cover it with dry wall. The wooden ceiling could be repaired, but just putting up some simple dry wall would give us a better surface for our orange accent ceiling(!) After thinking about all that was left to do for the day, I decided it was better to leave that one for the future and some helpers.

As a bit of a preview, here's the inspiration for the orange ceiling



We've chosen Behr "Aurora Orange" for the ceiling, and will paint the rest of the walls crisp white.  As for furniture....  we're keeping our eyes peeled. Any suggestions?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thermostat installation (Drake)


One of the major items that needs to be resolved with the house is the heating/insulation.   We have a gas furnace that heats the house through a baseboard induction system.   That we love.   But the house is not insulated, something we are not as excited about.   At any rate, in an effort to update the house and save some money, we purchased a new thermostat to replace this beautiful relic:




So, I read the instillation manuel, gathered the tools and prepared for the installation, figuring it would be a breeze.   Well, not exactly.   The manuel had a lengthy discussion of the process of finding the labels on the wiring so they could be correctly placed in the new thermostat.  Well, our old one, as seen below, lacked labels, either or the unit or the wires.




Uh oh.  Not good.  I started rooting around the furnace, following wires into different places.   Then I went to the internet and starting researching.   I figured this would be a quick find, but it took a good 20 minutes of internet time and 20 more minutes of researching the wiring in the basement to come to some conclusion, which was that one wire was the R and one was the W.  Here is the fun part.   According to the internet, it didn't matter which one was which.   Armed with this confidence inspiring info (No, really, nothing will happen to heater if you wire the thermostat backwards), I set forth to replacing our dinosaur with this spiffy modern one:




So, really the thermostat was very easy to install.  The only tip that I ran across that bears reprinting is the little trick of wrapping the wires a spare pencil to ensure that they don't slip back into the wall.
 


And here it is in all its eco-friendly, budget conscious, energy efficient glory:




Ahh, isn't that nice.