Posts Tagged ‘before & after’

Sometimes days end differently than you expect them to, and I had one of those days on Sunday. I went to sleep in a totally different place than where I woke up; it was crazy. And obviously, this means I rearranged our bedroom.

Here are a couple of pictures of our bedroom from March 2011:

It hadn’t changed much at all since then, except we swapped out the floor lamp for a different one.

Hadn’t changed much… until Sunday, that is. We hadn’t been thinking about rearranging things in there at all, but I was standing in our bedroom, trying for the 17th time to come up with a solution for our one minuscule closet so that my clothes could move back in with Andrew’s. While we were in Boston last weekend, Bailey mentioned that one of her friends had used some Ikea wardrobes, which ended up looking really nice. So I was thinking about where in the bedroom we could put a wardrobe, and every placement seemed oh-so-wrong.

This floorplanner.com layout may help you visualize it:

I wouldn’t want to put a wardrobe in front of either window, of course, and I felt that swapping one in for the dressers would make it seem like there was a hulking nightclub bouncer crowding us as soon as we walked through the bedroom door. Didn’t seem that relaxing. Looking at this image, I guess it seems like we could put a wardrobe where our bench was and put the bench at the foot of the bed, but for some reason this floorplan LOOKS a lot more spacious than it FEELS, even though I double-checked my measurements. That is to say, the bench at the foot of the bed made that thoroughfare way too cramped. I know because I tried it once.

At this point, I was still standing in the bedroom, getting more frustrated about this whole clothing-storage dilemma, when I realized that we hadn’t ever really entertained the idea of the bed on a different wall. We had dismissed that idea on move-in day and never looked back.

Et voila.

The new floorplan:

I was even inspired to hang this mirror that I’ve had for at least a year:

Another angle:

When Andrew came in from doing leaves, he said it seemed like “it should have always been this way,” which of course, delighted me, but I think Widget is the biggest fan of the new furniture arrangement, because now he can hop on and off the bed at will, using the bench as a step-stool.

So the wardrobe, if and when we have one, would take the place of the Malm dresser that has the capiz mirror above it. I’m liking this idea; gotta cram more storage into this room somehow. Speaking of storage, did I mention that the bench is a STORAGE bench? It’s our teeny-tiny linen closet, where I keep the extra set of sheets for our bed. It’s from JCPenney. Oh, what the heck, here’s a whole source list to round out the post:

  • duvet cover and pillow shams: Restoration Hardware
  • duvet: Overstock.com
  • sheets and pillowcases: Macy’s (Lauren Ralph Lauren)
  • euro pillows: Macy’s (Martha Stewart)
  • bedskirt: Ralph Lauren outlet
  • bench: JCPenney
  • rug, dressers, nightstands, curtains, set of three flower pictures, black frame: Ikea
  • curtain hardware: Bed Bath & Beyond (I think!)
  • bedside lamps: Macy’s
  • capiz mirror: Homegoods
  • piggy bank: Target
  • ampersand: Restoration Hardware
  • silver flower pot and peace lily: gifts from neighbors
  • small silver jar with lid, floor lamp: gifts from my mom (found secondhand)
  • capiz frame: Marshall’s
  • decorative silver bowl: Macy’s (Michael Aram)
  • oil-rubbed bronze door hardware: Lowe’s

ONE more thing. I can’t resist sharing a vintage shot of this bedroom, from when we first moved in (aw).

Oh, Malm dressers. You’ve been with us through so much.


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I think we’ve kept you guys waiting long enough. Time for some some bathroom “after” pics!

First though, let’s see what we were dealing with when we bought the house. Andrew dug up this picture from our appraiser.

Please pardon the quality, but you get the idea: oak-colored door, vanity, toilet seat, medicine cabinet. That chair rail that looks like wood – it wasn’t. It was some weird plastic fake stuff, and it trimmed the floor, too. Beige ceramic floor tile. Fly-fishing wallpaper. Plastic, impossible-to-clean shower surround. Brass accents (door knob, vanity and medicine cabinet hardware) mixed with chrome (shower door frame, sink faucet, shower head). Yikes.

The bathroom after “phase one,” also known as “okay, we need to figure out a way to live with this bathroom for now:”

Kinda boring, but we could live with it and we could not live with it.

Et voila, la toilette maintenant:

Sorry, something about it make me break into le francais. Anyway. Let’s dish. As you know, we added the tub, painted, tiled, tiled, and tiled some more. Since our last bathroom update, it’s all been downhill (by that I mean it got easier, not that everything started falling apart – thank goodness). Andrew’s dad came back one last time and did all our caulking, we wiped down our tile to get rid of the grout haze and then sealed the grout lines, the plumber returned to install our vanity and hook up all our fixtures, and we applied frosting film to the bottom half of the window for privacy. Despite the assurances of the Home Depot employee, I wasn’t totally sold on the level of privacy, but I made Andrew go outside one night while I was in there, and he said he couldn’t see me at all. Oh yeah, and we also had to rehang the mirror, the towel ring and rack, and the tension shower rod with new shower curtain.

Here’s another angle of the room to compare. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to snap every angle (or focus my camera apparently) for the true “before” before we started tearing it apart, but I’m sure you can use your imagination.

In other news, I finally figured out that I need to white balance my camera. Look at the difference. Not white balanced:

White balanced:

Which leads us to a discussion of our fixtures. Does that faucet look familiar at all? I’ll give you a hint: remember when we were having a hard time finding a faucet with cross handles that was not cheap and cheesy but also not $1,000+? (If not, review this post.) The high-end faucet that I fantasized about was this Kohler beaut:

At $1,072.25 MSP, this vibrant brushed nickel “Pinstripe Pure” faucet was kiiiind of a budget buster. But in shopping for bathroom fixtures, we learned two important lessons:

  1. brushed finishes cost about 30% more than polished, and
  2. list prices are a crock.

We spent nowhere near $1,000 by choosing polished chrome – we decided we preferred the sparkle anyway – and by driving a hard bargain. Well, not really. We’re not exactly seasoned negotiators, but we did manage to get some extra knocked off the purchase price (which was not near the list price anyway) at Ferguson by pointing out that Home Depot’s website had lower prices on the same products. Either way, we also spent nowhere near the list price of the polished chrome version (list price = $739.60!! ouch).

The sink faucet was the hard part. After we decided on that, we just added the matching shower head and tub faucet.

Close up of that delicious cross handle (complete with authentic water droplets).

Oh hey, and we got to shop for a shower curtain. Yay for accessories!

So there you have it. From fish to wish…come true. Ha! That reminds me. Should we swap out our sink for a little nostalgia?

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Little changes make me enormously happy. Our linen closet door (in our “hallway”) used to look like this:

In contrast to our bedroom door:

But after painting the door, the trim and the door knob, it looks like this:

Yes, the whole-house trim painting project continues (notice that strip to the left of the linen closet above – it’s still yellow and the quarter-round is still natural wood). We’ll get there.

I decided to take a gamble and spray paint the doorknob rather than buy a new one. I’m happy with the look, but I didn’t bother prepping it very much, and there is already a little wear on it. You can see it on the plate in this picture:

I can live with it for now, and I can always touch it up if it gets worse. Besides that, I’m in love with my “new” linen closet door.

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People have been asking me about the bathroom – sadly, there’s not much to report, but there is a tiny bit of progress, so I will need to write a post about that (soon, promise).

Instead, I’ll share the little projects we did this weekend. Gotta keep the state of this shack moving forward in some way. That reminds me of my mantra, which I don’t think I’ve shared: “petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nit.” “Little by little, the bird feathers its nest.” Sometimes I repeat it over and over to myself, and it makes me feel better that our house isn’t 100% perfectly put together 18 months later.

So, we now have a few visitors scheduled in the upcoming weekends – one of my cousins plus her friend, Andrew’s parents, and Andrew’s brother. Nothing like visitors to motivate some nest-feathering. Andrew painted some more trim work (that job seems to never end), this time around the door to the third bedroom and some other small pieces in the “hallway” that never got done for whatever reason. Hmm, I don’t seem to have a picture to illustrate why I used quotation marks around “hallway,” but it’s really just a small area that includes the doors to all three bedrooms, the bathroom, and the linen closet. Here’s a picture of Widget to make up for it:

I decided to finally hang some stuff that’s been gathering dust for a few weeks/months. First up, a mirror I got from Goodwill for $25. It’s pretty heavy, so I was nervous about hanging it, but I successfully located at least one stud. It’s been about nine hours, and it hasn’t fallen off the wall… yet… I’m still nervous.

I’d like to paint the frame, but I haven’t landed on a color yet, and I really wanted it on the wall already.

While I was at it, I decided to put up a picture I’ve been meaning to hang in the dining room also. It took me about 10 seconds to hang it. I don’t know why I didn’t until this point.

It’s a picture of cheese and honey that I took out of an issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. If you know me, you know I love cheese, and I hung it over our “bar,” where we keep our wine rack. Get it? Wine and cheese.

Anyone else have trouble keeping wine in the house? We had a good stock going, but now all that’s left is that bottle of ice wine.

Since I had such good momentum going, I decided to hang one last thing over the fireplace. Yes! We now have something over the fireplace (18 months later)! And to be a total letdown, I didn’t take a picture! But I have a picture of the next best thing, which is the picture sitting on the mantel. It’s basically the same thing, the picture’s just three inches higher now.

It’s a photo of us from our wedding. A late Christmas surprise from my parents. Close up:

Andrew said, “Does it make us vain to have a big picture of ourselves in the living room?” And I said, “It’s our house, we can do whatever we want.” Plus, I look so happy in it (because I was).

The black frame brings a new direction to our living room: now we need to incorporate black. Easy. Our living room had no direction anyway! Maybe I’ll paint the mirror frame black to tie it in.

Back to the dining room for a minute. I found an old pic for a little before and after. Here’s the before:

Please note the hand-me-down table & chairs, the window valances and light fixture left behind by the previous owner, and my sad attempt to spruce things up with some sunflowers. Also, look! Our wine rack has some wine in it!

Here’s the now (not really an “after” since I wouldn’t consider any room of our house to be an “after” yet):

So that’s our weekend update. Back to you, Seth Myers.

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I previously mentioned that I was hanging new curtains in the living room. I finally got around to taking some pictures, so I’m giving you a peek. First though, let’s see what the window looked like when we bought the house:

And now:

This time, I took into account how far from each other I’d be mounting the brackets so I wouldn’t have a sad, saggy curtain rod like last time, and I’m happy with the way it all turned out. From a different angle:

Close-up of the panels (from Ikea, as previously seen here):

They’re a light greige with big, shiny white polka dots.

Just like most projects once they’re done, I can’t believe it took me so long to hang these bad boys! Next up, we’ll be painting the adjoining wall in the living room a greige that matches these curtain panels and painting all the trim semi-gloss white. Maybe someday soon after that we’ll be painting the brick fireplace, finally figuring out what to hang above the mantel, buying an area rug, and replacing our TV stand (which is starting to bow from the weight of the TV). Stay tuned!

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At our wedding reception, Katie’s father, Butch, began his toast by thanking the guests and acknowledging his wife, Susie, and my parents for their work in planning/preparing for the event, though he went out of his way to single out my father, Mike.

That’s because Katie’s parents hosted the reception in the backyard of their beautiful three-acre property in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Their home is nestled on top of a hill, surrounded by various tall trees, and it overlooks what seems like a never-ending wooded expanse to the south. A pretty awesome spot to have your wedding reception, if you ask me, even if it took Butch, Susie and others several months to prep for the Big Day on Oct. 2, 2010.

Back to Butch’s reception toast, he went out of his way to single out my father, because my father in unique in a certain way: He loves doing yard work, and he loved helping make sure Butch and Susie’s yard was “ready for its close-up.”

That is no joke. He really loves it, and that was the extent of Butch’s message. He couldn’t believe how much my father enjoyed the yard work, couldn’t thank him enough, and said he was welcome to come back in future years whenever he wanted.

Well, with no backyard weddings to plan for (none that we know of, yet…), Katie and I have had The Real Yard Crasher and his hedge clippers all to ourselves.

Take a look at his work from over the weekend, tackling the overgrown, out-of-control hedges along the street-side of the house. (Keep in mind he did this in only 2-3 hours–I was mowing the lawn and let him do his thing, I promise.)








Thanks, Dad! And just like Butch, I’ll raise a glass and say, “You’re welcome any time!”

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Previously on suburbanstarter, I finally found our curtain hardware and long-enough panels and spray painted said hardware.  At long last, I could get to the real business of attaching that shizzle to the wall and calling it a day.  So I did… but, obviously, not without a couple more hiccups.

See, the window in my “dressing room” is not centered on the wall, so I considered cheating it a bit and having the rod extend further on one side of the window than the other to give the illusion of a centered window.  Then I was like, meh, it’s not like it’s ever bothered me, so I’m not going to fight it.  I did, however, want to make sure my curtains wouldn’t block a lot of light from the windows when they were pushed to either side, so I threaded one of my curtain panels onto a rod a took a loose measurement.  I estimated I’d need to mount my brackets 16″ from the window.  Here’s my first bracket – so exciting!!

I used a level and a measuring tape to mark where to drill for the bracket on the other side of the window, and was about to put power drill to drywall, when I thought to myself, “is my curtain rod this long?”  Um, no.  No it is not.  Curses.

So guess what?  I decided my rod would extend further on one side of the window than the other.  I’d already thought about doing it, so why not?  My lack of forethought made the decision for me.  First bracket: 16″ from window.  Second bracket: 11″ from window.  No biggie.  Crutain rod in brackets?

Womp womp.  Brackets too far apart = overextended rod + no center support = droop city.  Fortunately, I have two more similar rods in longer lengths that had been destined for the living and dining rooms, but at this point, I said to myself, “there are going to be curtains on this window by the time Andrew comes home.”  Of course, I hadn’t bothered to spray paint those rods yet because I hadn’t been planning to hang them.  Here’s a detail shot of the sprayed bracket supporting the unsprayed rod and finial:

Argh.  Oh well, at least the part that’s connected to the wall is painted, and the rod and finial are easy to take down and spray at a later time.

It turns out that 16″ was too generous on the left side, so I have to take a little care to leave that curtain panel “full” when it’s open and try to mirror the look on the right side.  The linen panels ended up being the winners in here, and they obviously need ironing or a wash-and-dry cycle.  I didn’t use the hem tape (yet?) because I ended up liking the panels pooled a little bit on the floor.  I could end up changing my mind on that at some point (like when the curtain bottoms start getting too dusty for me to stand it anymore), but for now, I think they look sort of…. glamorous?  Dramatic?  Something.  On this side of the room, I still need to hang artwork to the left of the newly-dressed window, reupholster the little footstool, paint(?) the big chest of drawers, and replace/reupholster(?) the armchair.  On the other side of the room, the closet needs work, but that’s another story for another day.

Just for fun, here’s a shot of this room from when we bought the house:

It’s blurry, but I hope you can see that the walls were pink, there was a glass light fixture that was sort of billiards-hall-esque, and there were plantation shutters and a valance on the window.

Here’s a shot circa January 2011:

Can you say “clutter”?  At least I had swapped out the valance for an actual curtain and ditched the red glass light fixture and plantation shutters, but I have to say I’m glad it doesn’t still look like this.  Progress is a beautiful thing.

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