Friday, July 24, 2015

Our house is sold! And, presenting our master bedroom.

Ok, I've been totally missing in action because we've just been so busy with all our house shuffling.  We sold our home in 6 days, which is awesome!  We got 5k over asking, with us paying 8k for the buyers closing, so netting 3k under asking.  Not bad.  The buyers are also paying a $1350 assessment for repaving our street about a month ago.  We are totally happy and relieved because we are getting more than we thought we would and it sold so quickly.  I think part of the reason is the awesome master suite.  Here's a few before and afters of our bedroom:
I chose BM Edgecomb Gray for the walls, it is a very nice neutral that reads warm gray.  A favorite with designers, I'm told!  While the tan looks ok in these very bright photos, it was quite dark and dated most of the time. 
I didn't make a huge effort in here, because we really hadn't done anything in here when we found out we were leaving.  I painted, changed out all the almond switches and outlets for white, hung some art and got new bedding at Crate and Barrel.  We also put down the rug from our old dining room for lack of a better place to store it.  I'm not really a fan of rugs over carpet, but it worked fine in here.
In the walk in closet, I bought a Malm dresser, hung my DIY crystal chandelier, and put up some hooks. 
And now that I'm looking at the 'before' pic, I'm realizing there is an outlet in this closet behind the hamper that I didn't know about.  Doh!  That might have come in handy.  The little area in the back corner has always been useless because of the door to the cedar closet swinging out.  I just put my little side table there with a lamp, but I'm sure I could've come up with something more creative if we were staying. 
Speaking of the cedar closet, this is what it looked like before:
The space was too small to put any shelving on the other walls, so I bought these hook rails from Target to at least have a place to hang hoodies and jackets. 
And here is the after.  Mind-blowing, I know. 
I kept it simple with two hook rails, the little black rack for baskets, an accent rug to cover the hideous flooring, and then some baskets on the existing shelf and platform under the hanging space.  Functional, if not pretty!  I realize we have a hoodie addiction.  This is definitely not all of them. 
By the door to the room we had some space, so I created a little area with a $5 ottoman from Target, a Pier 1 pillow I've had forever, and my trusty Keep Calm and Carry On poster.  You can all slap me now.  I just am seriously too lazy to change it to something new.  I'm also too lazy to take a closer photo. 
So, that is that.  Shaun's closet across from the walk in is also huge, so we had a ton of storage in this house.  I will miss it dearly!  We did find another house in IL, but I'm going to share it in a different post.  It's a project to say the least!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The other bathroom

Ok, thanks for all the reassurance that my navy painted master bath is not going to ruin the sale of our house!  Now for the main bath.  Again, there is so much more I'd love to do in here.  Add a solar tube for some natural light, redo the entire shower area.   Not to mention the floor tile.  Oh, and a new vanity....but alas, this is all we could afford.  Here are some before and afters:
Wall color is Benjamin Moore OC-14 Natural Cream.   So much brighter than the dark tan.  Shower curtain is the 'Fiji' style from World Market, I can't find it on the website any longer!  I decided against raising the curtain higher because I couldn't find a curtain I liked, and I didn't want it to be dark in the shower.
I love the way the vanity turned out!  The color is Sherwin Williams Anonymous, and I used a $5 sample jug to paint the entire thing.  We knew we were leaving during the makeover, so I chose a neutral color that is still interesting.  The knobs are Saturn knob with star backplate in polished chrome from Rejuvenation.  I'm so in love with these! 
I think for what I had to work with, this vanity is killer.  I even went through the trouble to put matching liner in the drawers to cover the sweet faux wood grain stuff.  I got this roll online at because they don't carry it in our stores, and couldn't believe my luck when it was the exact shade of gray as the paint!
Love it when that happens!  I also love it when I find a steal online at expensive websites.  Like this little glass shelf from Rejuvenation.  I got it for $30, which is unheard of for heavy chrome, thick glass, and a beautiful glass towel bar.  It is still that price, so go get it!
The light is one of my favorite things.  I love how pointing the lights up makes the ceiling appear taller, and creates a nice all-over light, rather than harsh light pointing down your face.  Ladies, nobody looks good with light pointing down on our I right?  This is the Seagull Driscoll vanity light in polished chrome.  I got it at Lighting New York, which is fast becoming my favorite place to buy lighting since they will quote you a lower price than their website if you contact them via chat or email.  I got this light for $175, when most other places were charging $190 - 225. 
The Grohe faucet is gorgeous, but I'm mad because I paid $108 for it on Amazon, and now it's $71 with shipping.  Ugh, bummer for me.  Buy it, it's awesome! 
The mirror is from Homegoods, we ended up having to install it vertically because it just wasn't 'tall' enough when we put it horizontally due to the surface of the mirror being broken up by the chunky edges.  I think it worked out almost perfectly with the light, though!
I also had to address the crappy door and trim in this room.  It was paint-splattered (and you know it was NOT by me!) and the finish was all degraded, almost like a previous owner was standing in front of the door spraying Aqua Net daily.  Yeah, this house was built in 1973 so you know that was happening!  Here is a little sample of the ugly door:
I cleaned the paint off with Goof Off the best I could, scraped a little, then used a most amazing Howard product called Citrus Shield Premium Color Paste Wax, in Walnut.  This stuff is great!
Have I mentioned how much I love Howard products?  Like here, here, and here?  SO much they sent me a huge box of the entire product line?  Yes, I love it. 
It's hard to see in the photo, but this gave some of the color back to the veneer, and certainly improved the appearance!  I bet if I put some Feed N Wax over the top, it would be even better.  Here is a shot of the entire door, half waxed. 
It made such a difference!  In this pic you can see the photo from our honeymoon that I hung in an old frame painted to match the vanity.  So, there you have the bathroom. 
Not a bad makeover, eh?
To revisit the budget of 1k, here is what I actually spent in here:
Replace light ($175)
Replace toilet ($230)
Replace faucet ($110)
Replace fan with new fan+light unit (Estimate $100) I spray painted the existing fan cover
Towel rack for above toilet ($80)  I bought the shelf for $34
Replace mirror ($85)
Replace cabinet hardware ($40)
Paint cabinet (Estimate $25 for samples and final quart)  Used $5 SW sample jar I already had
Chrome curtain rod ($20)
Extra long shower curtain or window panels (Hopefully $60 or less)  Spent $30 on curtain
Wall paint ($35)
New towels, rug and accessories ($50 if I'm lucky)  I only bought a green elephant statue and new glass canisters for $35.  Used the rug and towels we already had. 
Refinish kit for counter ($10)  I already bought the kit, but never did the refinish.  Ooops. 
Total:  $809

Works for me!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Our finished bathroom

I've waited so long to say that our bathrooms are done.  And now that they are 'done,' it's sort of a let down.  Not because they don't look nice, because I think they do....but they are far from where I'd like them to be.  At this point (house goes on the market tomorrow!) we are just calling things good and making everything look as nice as possible.  First up, some before and after photos of the navy master bath. 
I definitely regret painting the bathroom this dark color, but only because I know this will be a very hard color for most buyers to love, and I didn't realize we would be moving when I made this decision.  I hope to make it stylish enough that they would overlook it, we'll see if I succeeded. 
The country cabinet had to go.  It was just awful and dated and no amount of paint or styling could make it better.  Plus, the shelves inside were fixed and were much to short to put anything over 8 inches high inside. 
The open shelves consist of basic building lumber 2x10s cut to the exact width of the toilet alcove.  They are just pine, nothing fancy.  Rounded edges. 
I cut them with our miter saw, sanded them well, and stained them with a mixture of our floor stain and a lighter one.  I finished them with several coats of my absolute favorite finish, Deft spray lacquer in Semi-Gloss.  I get mine at Ace hardware and I love it!  The brackets are antique brass in an arts and crafts style from Van Dyke's restorers
I like the brackets, but the finish is a little too 'antique' for my taste and looks a bit more old fashioned than I wanted.  It also seems they increased the price, since I only paid $13.50 each.  
The baskets and much of the d├ęcor on the shelves is from Hobby Lobby, half off of course!   My only requirements were baskets that weren't more than 9 inches deep and tall enough to hide my essentials.  These fit the bill, and they had a large size where I could put one on the floor and roll up towels inside. 
The vanity lights make a huge difference in here.
I love the new lights!  I only wish I could've added a can light above the toilet and in the shower.  But, it wasn't worth it to spend more money in here. 
Vanity area before.  Not much changed here, the mismatched handles were replaced and the lights are replaced, but the mirror is the same as is the vanity and the awful seashell counter. 
Sorry for this truly bad photo, but you can at least see the brass knobs I got.  I don't love them, but they are better than before.  I would've loved to frame out the mirror with matching wood, but I just don't care much anymore!
Overall, I think it looks nice and is a decent improvement over the previous look.
I will share the main hallway bathroom tomorrow, I promise!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Our back yard

Hi, everyone!  I'm still around and working my butt off on this house, despite my lack of posting!  Our bathroom is 95% done, still waiting for a silly shelf that apparently had to be hand made by artisans before they could ship it to me.  I hate waiting!  That reveal will come next week, I promise.

For now, I have some news to share.  Shaun has been offered his exact position with TJ Maxx in the Chicago market, so we are moving very soon!  Now, our entire focus has shifted to 'design to sell' this house and with that, we have turned our attention to the fenced backyard.  Can I remind you what it looked like when we moved in?
Yikes!  In case it isn't clear, this entire area was covered in weeds and lava rock.  It was horrifying and we had to spend hours weeding and relocating a bunch of crap.  Not to mention the tri-colored fence as the previous owners gave up on their staining midway through.  After a really crappy debacle with putting all the lava rock into Bagsters that WM would NOT pick up, then shoveling it all into a real dumpster for the second time, it was finally mostly gone. 
Shaun ripped out the half dead barberry and burning bush to make room for more attractive landscaping.  Then (before we knew we were moving) we decided that a little paver patio would be ideal in this large dirt pit, and would give us more entertaining space than just the concrete slab...which always feels cramped for some reason. 
I found these 6x6 and 3x6 'ultra slate' pavers at Menards on mega clearance for next to nothing.  We got all of the pavers for about $100 and still have some left over.  This was the pattern we were going to use for the patio:
Very simple and clean.  The goal was to have a three foot wide walkway leading from the concrete to an 8x9 foot space.  We chose this end of the fenced area because it was the most sunny, and we had visions of buying some awesome lounge chairs to soak up the sun.  We started marking out the shape and then Shaun got digging. 
 A lot of leveling of the dirt was necessary back here, and we did a fair amount of tamping as well. 
We used cheap paver base from Home Depot, and it worked fine.  It was not as nice to work with as the crushed limestone we used at our last house, but fine nevertheless.
I don't want to tell you how many times we had to go back to Home Depot to buy more bags of paver base and sand.  SO. MANY. TIMES.  Because we wanted everything to be perfectly even and symmetrical, we lined up the number of pavers that we wanted on each side and in the little walkway to make sure our edgers were the correct length before we cut them and staked them. 
We also tend to stake the edgers as we go because sometimes they just aren't tight enough to hold the pavers in, staking as we go means we can tighten them in if needed. 
Putting in the pavers was such an ordeal because it was SO hot when we started.  Over 90 degrees and no clouds in the sky!  Leveling took forever and we just kept going to buy still more sand.
Finally, it was done and we were able to plant some new perennials and evergreens around it.  I also had to address the wonky fence.  I took a piece of peeling paint/stain to Home Depot to find a product that was as similar as possible.  I ended up with Behr Waterproofing Solid color stain in Cedar Naturaltone.  It is literally the same exact color and look as what was already on the fence. 
 I started where the orange ended and was so pleased to see how closely it matched.
This fence is in terrible shape, it is so old and water damaged that the wood just flakes away under your fingernails.  It probably only has a year or two left, so this was definitely the best we could do to buy it some time and help us sell the house.  Luckily, it looks new upon first glance with the stain, so hopefully the overall look will leave buyers with a good impression.  AND, after tons and tons of work, here is the finished back yard!
We are so happy with the way everything turned out!  If we were staying here, we would plant more and possibly add more stone work, but our goal was to spend as little as possible and have it look as nice as possible. 
We purchased skyrocket junipers to flank the edges of the patio, roses, phlox, some ground cover and grasses to finish this area.  We also repurposed some salvia, two enormous hostas, and two perennials we bought last summer that I honestly cannot remember what they are. 
We weren't really sure what to do on the end of the fenced area by the house, so to save money, use the random timbers that were already here, and use up tons of extra dirt that was also back here, we created a little garden area.  The chives, mint, and rhubarb were here, I bought the tomato and pepper plants.  It does look a little sad, but hopefully it will give buyers a good idea of how they can use this space.  And the fence looks so much better stained to match the rest!
We decided to use 12x12 paver stones to create a little walkway from the patio to the garden.  We didn't really consider that we wanted these to be centered on the patio when we built up the garden, so I had to jog the path to the left.  I think it adds some interest. 
The deck area is sort of useless.  There is really no way to have substantial seating or anything up there because it's too small and there are two doorways.  We thought about tearing it out, but didn't want to deal with whatever was (or wasn't) underneath.  So, I invested in a super cheap Ikea bistro set to stage it, then we planted some of the crazy mint from the garden in pots and a couple other annuals in wood planters from Homegoods. 
Even though the seating blocks the doors to the dining room, they are blocked on the inside too, so what does it matter?  It looks cute.  I do have a stain/sealer I will use on the deck to freshen it up as soon as I get a stretch of days without rain. 
We obviously have some cleaning up still to do back here, I bought too much mulch and there are pots of dirt and rocks all around, but for the time being we are just so happy all the hard work is done!
Here is a couple before and afters again, for fun!
We spent about $160 in plants, $45 in mulch, $80 in stain for the fence and deck, $125 in pavers, I'm guessing about $150 in sand, paver base, and edgers, and paid about $300 (I think?) to rent a dumpster and buy the bagsters for the lava rock removal.  I think the before and after makes it more than worth it!  I hope you all like it.