Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

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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May I just go on the record and say that I love the selection of home accessories currently at Target? Lots of gray and white, and lots of brass accents. The gray and the white completely fit in with pretty much every room in our house; the brass… not so much. At some point, with no real discussion, Andrew and I reached the consensus that we preferred silver-toned finishes over gold-toned. I was cool with it. I haven’t touched base with Andrew on this recently, but I’m pretty sure he’s cool with it (-slash doesn’t give it a second thought). We’re pale people, and silver is a better complement to our skin tone. But sometimes I see some brass accessories that are seriously the bomb (entryway light fixture not being one of them). Brass reminds me of Emily Henderson. Love her!

Oh, brass horse. You complete me.

So, yeah. Time to loosen the no-brass-allowed rule. But how? HOW? Some people are really good at mixing metals, but that’s way too advanced for me. Life is so difficult! (#firstworldproblems)

Here’s the compromise I came up with: instead of completely scrapping all the chrome-y/silver-y/brushed-nickel-y accents in our house, and instead of swearing off all brass no matter how bangin’, I’ve designated the office/guest room as our brass-and-gold-toned-metallics mecca. That room is pretty much a clean slate, decor-wise, so it can go any direction. The solution is so simple, but when I came up with it, I felt liberated.

Back to Target. I was there on Monday, and I stumbled across this mirror:

You know I loved it if I was inspired enough to take a picture with my phone. I didn’t buy it though. I’m practicing restraint, which is a gamble with Target goods – I still get wistful over these plastic tumblers I saw there in June. When I went back to buy them, they were gone. Sniffle. Moment of silence for what could have been…

Anyway. Restraint. I wanted Andrew’s opinion on the mirror, and I wanted to make room in our budget (we’re talking $40-plus-tax, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but we’re watching our funds closely around here… it’s called “operation: pay off the car early”). Andrew was all “of course you can buy that,” which I knew he would be, and Tuesday was our wedding anniversary, so after a celebratory dinner out, we stopped by Target to grab my mirror (it was still there – phew!).  Oh, we grabbed a few other things while we were there. I’ll have to share those soon, too.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to hang the mirror in the office/guest room. If you can’t make it out in the photo, the finish is more of an “antiqued” brass, not shiny-shiny. This mirror might even jump-start the office/guest room makeover, which has been a looooong time coming. Also, looking at that brass horse, I feel like I could DIY something really similar. Did anyone else have Breyer horses? I have about a million of them at my parents’ house – add some gold paint and attach a base, and boom! Instant Emily-Henderson-inspired style.

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STUFF. Blech. Stuff stresses me out. In my perfect world, our house would look like this:

Monochromatic and uncluttered to the extreme. Unfortunately, it’s not really a realistic ideal since Andrew and I sometimes like to do things like watch TV or read or surf the Internet. And we have a dog that requires stuff. And life in general just takes stuff.

I’m not exactly Type A, so organization is a constant struggle. Luckily, I was recently in the land of stuff: my parents’ house, where stuff goes to die. Normally, all that stuff just makes me anxious, but a stack of six baskets – abandoned by my sister – struck me as a possible solution for an empty… hole?… in our TV stand.

I put a few books and a decorative bowl in the bottom left quadrant, but the fourth and final one sat empty for the past two months. I wanted something white or light-colored to put in there, to lessen the black-hole qualities of the unit. And then those white baskets winked at me, and here we are today:

Light and bright? Yes. Clutter control? Oh heck yes. Widget’s toys have a new home.

And of course, that basket had friends.

These couldn’t be a better fit; I think this is what they call “fate.” There’s good stuff in these two baskets. Junk food for Widget:

Junk food for my brain:

How about those Twilight kids, eh? So scandalous.

So that’s three of the six. The other three moved into the multi-purpose closet in our living room. It’s our coat closet/pantry/catch-all storage space.

Those doors need a makeover, and that trim needs painting. At least the inside has begun it’s transformation from a jumbled mess to a semi-sensical…mess.

Reusable shopping bags shoved in there, then that pink bag is full of cleaning rags and there’s some other cleaning supplies shoved back there. Next shelf up is for games and my yoga mat and light weights. Here’s where one of the baskets came in handy to wrangle cards and Catch Phrase.

The other shelves are taken by our toaster oven and random foods, spices and oils.

Then I used the remaining two baskets to corral our hats and gloves: one’s for Andrew, and one’s for me. At some point, I’ll get around to making little labels or something for them so it’s easy to grab the right one.

While we’re talking about contained storage, check out this little box I picked up from Marshall’s for about three bucks

It’s kind of Hermes-esque, right? Ha! I wish. I use it to store my hair ties.

There you have it; that’s how we’re trying to deal with all the stuff life necessitates. As mentioned, organization is ever a work-in-progress for me, so any tips are more than welcome! Send ’em my way. Oh, and Stephanie – if you’re reading this, can I have these baskets? Thanks! Love you!

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Here’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed the past two springs. Right around March or April (depending on the weather, I guess), I start to see these signs pop up everywhere:

image from here

Some of you may know that my mom and her sisters LOVE yard sales. Growing up, I tried to participate as little as possible.

Then, our neighbors had a moving sale, and I offered them $20 for this granite-topped kitchen cart:

The granite and the wood-tone don’t go with anything else in our house, but hey, the kitchen’s a complete disaster anyway, and the cart adds a lot of function: a drawer and two shelves for extra storage, a bit of extra countertop work space, and a place to hang dish towels.

So I guess I’m kind of a convert, but nothing crazy. On Saturday, Emily and I drove around to some yard sales (we started with ones that were posted on craigslist, but really, from my limited experience, it seems like the best ones are always the ones we stumble across from following those handwritten signs). Emily is my bargain-hunting buddy; she was with me when I found my Goodwill table too. She never buys anything though. Weird.

Aside from some books, here’s what I got:

$5 cast iron Christmas tree stand. They were asking $6, but I don’t know if you know this about me – I drive a hard bargain. For the past two Christmases, I’ve told Andrew that once the holidays are over, we’re going to buy a deeply-discounted tree stand so we can get a live tree the next year. And two Christmases in a row, I have done exactly not that. But 2012 – the year of the live Christmas tree!

The only other thing worth noting were these glass ornaments that I got for 25 cents. They were asking 50 cents. Again: hard. bargain.

They are the type that allow you to jazz them up, either by popping off the top and shoving something inside or by decorating the outside. I might try to do this snazzy glitter trick I saw on pinterest:

image from here

Stayed tuned for that happening. Most likely around June 2014.

Does anyone else out there buy used stuff? There were a few things I passed on, like a $3 set of little Pampered Chef nesting glass bowls with lids and a $10 three-tiered shelf with baskets. I couldn’t think of an immediate use for either, so I think that’s a good rule of thumb. Andrew and I are a little bit stuff-averse, so the less useless junk we have around, the better.

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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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I know we’re keeping you guys in suspense with the bathroom reveal, but we’re still putting the finishing touches in the room. Soon!

In the meantime, our birthdays bookended the big bath project. Mine was the Wednesday before we demo’d, and Andrew’s was Sunday – the day after we were able to shower in our own house again (that’s a good birthday present, right?).

Even though the bathroom has been commanding 98% of our attention (and funds), we both managed to gift the other with something decor-related.

First up, Andrew gave me this decorative ampersand, which I’ve been coveting since at least the fall:

Ampersands are so hot right now (right, Nora?). This one’s from Restoration Hardware – otherwise known as Mecca – but there are a lot of options on Etsy, too (like these and this). I put it on top of our little china hutch for now; it’ll probably move around the house from time to time. It can also be mounted on the wall.

Meanwhile, Andrew’s been complaining about our TV stand in the living room for some time. You can see it here:

It doesn’t look so bad, but the middle was starting to sag under the weight of the TV, and the back was open, which did nothing to hide the tangle of wires back there. Also, we’re starting to move away from the blond-colored finish toward darker finishes, like the frame for our wedding photo above the mantel and the Goodwill side table by our chair-and-a-half.

The old TV stand was starting to get under Andrew’s skin. Hence, this secret little project:

Yup, I bought it, hid it, and assembled it on the down-low and swapped it in for the blond one when Andrew wasn’t looking.

So the blond TV stand now lives in the basement, along with all our other semi-homeless home goods. We are plotting to find one big ottoman to replace both the beige microfiber ottoman and the blond Ikea Lack table, a pair of stools to go under the big window (which can serve as foot stools or extra seating in a pinch), and an area rug. Down the line, we’re thinking we want a smaller armchair in place of the chair-and-a-half too. And once we’ve misplaced all this living room furniture, we’ll be well on our way to furnishing our basement and turning it into a second, bigger, casual living/TV space. After we eradicate the snakes, of course. Yikes. Snakes.

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Bathroom Day Four: Recap

It’s day four, and I had to double-check that because they’re already running together. In fact, Andrew was explaining something the plumbers said/did to his dad (who is back to help! tomorrow too!) and was like, “the other day… Katie, what day was that?” and I was like, “that was yesterday.” So yeah, we’re learning that in the midst of a reno, the days can start to become blurry.

We’re also learning that things take a long time. We figured they would, but man, do they. Today, the cement board went up, and here’s the inaugural piece:

That piece went up, got screwed into the studs… and then it came down. After we were done celebrating the install of that first piece, we realized it was overhanging one side of the tub flange. It’s supposed to sit on top of the flange or else it bows out, ruining any later tile installation on top of it. So all the screws came back out. Womp womp. It’ll be worth it in the end not to take any shortcuts, but in the moment, shortcuts sure are tempting!

Andrew’s dad is pretty much a pro with cement board. The plumber had told us to get the holes for the plumbing as tight as possible.

I don’t think you can get much tighter. That picture looks weird. Moving on…

While a lot of this cement board finagling was happening, I went to Classic Granite & Marble in Jessup to pick up our vanity top and have the holes drilled for our faucet. I love CGM. I wish I could go hang out there for no reason; the people are so nice, they have a huge TV and a Keurig in the lounge area, and they have all kinds of stone eye candy (counters and edge options and quartz in a million colors). And they have a foosball table, which I couldn’t use today because it’s a little hard to play foosball solo, but Andrew did play me the last time we were there. I love foosball.

Can I just say how much better CGM is than Home Depot and Ferguson and pretty much every other place we’ve had to go for this project? When I couldn’t find the perfect vanity top online, I naively thought we could order a custom one from Home Depot. However, when we got there, the woman working in the kitchen/bath area told us we were the first people to ever ask for a 19-inch deep carrara marble vanity top and that a custom order like that would require a $1000 minimum. She was none too polite about it, either. In fact, she kind of made us feel like idiots. Despite kind of wanting to punch her, I would consider it a blessing in disguise because she was actually the one who directed us to CGM.

They had us browse and select our own slab of natural stone (just like in the design shows!), let us pick our choice of edge finish, attached an undermount sink, and drilled the faucet holes to fit whatever we bought – all for around the same price as what I had estimated Home Depot would charge. I figured at HD we would get a lower quality marble, whatever edge they decided we wanted, and we’d have to tell them how to drill the holes for the faucet upon ordering; I figured (based on their 22-inch depth similar vanity top) that we’d pay a little less than $400 for it. In contrast, the ultra-custom top from CGM was a little over $400. And I’d choose them every time. The top I picked up today is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t wait to install it. You’ll have to wait on the picture though… sorry to be such a tease, but I didn’t take one before loading it into the car, and it’s currently residing in my back seat.

Rant over.

Here’s the bathroom at the end of today:

Here’s Andrew applying thinset to the seams; he’s under the close scrutiny of his dad, aka our general contractor:

Tomorrow: tiling begins.

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