house in the ‘burbs

keeping it together

there is a lot going on in my world. we have the basement project… 2, 5, 10 guys coming and going during the week and on saturdays drilling and banging and all those decisions and the communication involved in the process…
we’ve had a few health related set-backs over the past couple weeks. first, there was something going around dane’s daycare that gave him a bad cold and mild fever for a few days, then i got a miserable stomach bug toward the end of last week. dane tripped and hit his face on a table at daycare wednesday… he’s ok, but has a fat, sore lip… 
we have our family vacation coming up the week after next, which just takes a lot of careful planning since we’ll be traveling out of the country with a toddler. meanwhile, i’m trying to be extra productive at work and of course cramming in extra workouts whenever i can in light of the aforementioned vacation that will be taking place in tropical (read: bathing suit) weather. i’ve really been hustling the past couple weeks and i feel pretty good about my hard work.. aside from some of the time at the office i’ve had to miss to be with dane, but i can’t beat myself up over it.

we made it to the boston childrens museum sunday with our besties the colantos, and this weekend we are heading to killington vt to party with more of our very best friends (where dane will be the only little.. wish us luck!)

photo cred to lizzy


now where am i going with this? i don’t know, but i need to start getting into the basement progress.. there has been a lot!

the only fun purchase i have made so far is this moravian star pendant for the bottom of the stairs leading into the main room. this “aged tin” star only ran me $96.

i’ve admired them for so long in hallways or foyers like below, but never had a place to put one until now.

there were canned lights down in the basement already since it was originally somewhat finished. a bunch of them. all wired into the dropped ceiling which was the first thing mike tore down in preparation for the re-do.

an electrician came by and told us that the lights were not made to be built into a ceiling and could even be a fire hazard (yikes) so they couldn’t be salvaged. we had to buy and rewire all new lights. so that’s done. and that’s sort of all there is as far as lighting goes.
the other phase 1 decisions we have made are as follows:

1. lighting
2. ceiling
3. fireplace
4. built-ins
5. paint
6. carpet

so i’ll get to each of these over the next week or two with a little vacation recap in the mix 🙂

a little photo collage. finally.

behold, my weekend accomplishment..

finally some familiar faces in these frames.

if you follow along you know that it took a loooong time to get here, so even though it was a matter of filling 6 measly ikea frames, it still feels like a major victory.

i started by printing a bunch of 8×10 black & white photos via walmart. it was my first time using walmart for printing and they came out fine.. it was easy and cheap.. shipped free to my house in a couple days, so i’d use them again i suppose.

i got a big white mat at michaels for $15 from their framing department and used a mat knife to cut out some shapes for my photos to sit behind (since the cheap ikea frames are weird sizes). i just traced around a bowl for a circle, traced the shape of the hexagon using an image on my ipad, and measured a rectangle the old fashioned way with a ruler.

the frames are two of these: $9.99/ea. (already included a mat that works with the 8x10s)
two of these: $5.99/ea. (for which i cut my own mats)
and two of these: $1.99/ea. (cut a mat for one and just stuck some white paper in back of the other)

its so nice to look up and see all these happy moments when i first walk in the house.

photos of people you love make the best art. this one of dane chomping down apple sauce in st. martin is our favorite.

so anywho, the good news is you don’t have to hear me talk about this anymore. done. a good thing because we have way bigger fish to fry down below (meaning our huge finish the basement project).

without further ado – the dramatic journey of 6 frames and one mirror:

and still reveling in how improved the whole house feels after the entry overhaul.

dreaming up a basement bedroom

my vision for this guest bedroom evolved as the construction slowly came together.
here is where i stand (little inspiration board below). i’m going for a calm, organic, industrial look (if that makes any sense).  natural textures and metals with green accents and white bedding.
here is the drywalled room with the new window location. we left the old window hollows as they were for the heck of it (interest? character?). 
mike half-joked about painting the insides with chalk paint and i said, YES. do that.
you can see where the lines are drawn for the mdf boards. it will be a board and batten look around the bottom, then up the whole wall with the window (which will be the head of the bed).
here are mike and rowdy probably questioning my pendant lighting choice. they will soon find the choice is FLAWless. (ha. i hope).
this wall color was not a calculated choice. we grabbed it from the mess-up bin at our local benjamin moore vendor. they have a paint can full of sticks dipped with colors they have mess-up gallons of in the back and sell for $10. this was really high quality regal select bm paint (normally $50/gallon at least) and i thought i could make the greeny work. i know you might be thinking this is similar to the gypsy teal in brewster… not what i am going for. i think if i mix in enough earthy green accents, i can stay away from the punchy teal feeling.

the best part. hopefully. eventually. will be a sliding barn door across this opening between the bedroom and the main area.
..until next time!

basement phase I

when we decided it was time to tackle the basement, there were a lot of immediate decisions to be made. we figured we could get started on the little space that would be the bedroom with the help of our talented neighbor (whose name is rowdy.. the same guy who did an amazing job with the entry molding) and then move on to the rest of the floor after getting our feet wet. the bedroom will be about 10×20, a manageable little space to start drywalling and finishing off. here it is just after we cut open the wall & poured the cement.

and here it is after moving the windows (we transferred them from the long wall.. which is under the deck.. to the adjacent wall where they will let in way more natural light), putting up drywall, plastering the ceiling and adding some preliminary trim. 

the fun part about starting from scratch and working with rowdy down here is that the possibilities for customization are endless. the scary part is that endless possibilities are expensive(!) there is a ledge that runs along the 3 walls and there will be future pendent lights on either side of the future bed.. and then after seeing how nice the entry came out, i couldn’t help but ask for a little molding action along the bottom of ledge in here as well… you will see what i mean later.
i want this room to be really hip while REALLY cozy and inviting so people are dying to come visit (“people” being my sisters and our friends from the other side of the world.. otherwise known as the metrowest).
we have to bundle up when we go down here because there is no heat yet!

ahhhh, the view from the bedroom. a far cry from cozy and inviting.. but not for long!

more progress to report soon.

finishing our basement

the first phase of finishing our basement was unfinishing our basement. one of the first things we did when we moved in two years ago was have the whole lower level remediated for mold. this involved tearing up all of the carpet and removing the bottom of the dry wall. we also installed an auto-pump bucketless dehumidifier to keep the basement dry.

in retrospect this was a huge blessing in disguise… its the reason the previous buyers backed out of their purchase agreement and the reason we are now able to rethink and reinvent the whole space. thanks mold. love  you.

the basement was really really really really gross the first time we saw it. the next few picks are from the home inspection walk-through.

these are the stairs down – off of the kitchen..

and here is an inflated, moldy aero-bed. quick nap anyone?


so the entire area was stripped down, sterilized and will be rebuilt.
the most significant change we are making is the addition of a bedroom (and eventually bathroom). its hard to explain, but when the previous owners put an addition on the kitchen upstairs (basically bumped out the back of the house) they had to build a support structure/foundation below, coming off the basement. so the window on the back wall of the basement that used to look out to the yard, now looked into a weird, unfinished, “secret room”. it seems as though they had originally intended to make it finished living space, but either ran out of time or money or both.
here is the secret room.. where the house bumps out in the back, under the deck (the basement is a walk-out).
and you can barely see that window along this wall below on the left that used to be the only way to see into the weird semi-room.
the room had no concrete base (just dirt), but was otherwise built as if it was intended to be an addition to the basement. we decided it would convert nicely into a 4th bedroom that we will likely need for guests down the road. so we blew open the wall and poured concrete (also, we were told that without concrete, the enclose area was likely to grow mold of its own).  
concrete is not cheap. luckily mike won his fantasy football league last year and his profit is now a floor of cement (don’t get me wrong, i’m sure we could be building in indoor pool down here if we still had all the money he has lost from previous seasons of fantasy sports, but lets focus on the positive).
we couldn’t afford to do all the refinishing right away, but now two years later we are diving in head-first. mostly because TOYS ARE TAKING OVER OUR HOUSE.
all of these toys.. ALL of them will be going down into the future play room.
here is what said play room is looking like as we speak:

don’t worry we hired people. real qualified people to do the putting back together. mike is only the demolition (read: destruction) specialist..
below is the rough (not to perfect scale) layout. things should be moving very quickly, so i’ll [hopefully!] be checking in frequently. if you can’t tell this is sooo exciting for us. checkout my pinterest board for some of my random inspiration.

more of the same (wall)

i bet you didn’t think i could possibly stretch the execution of one small frame collage into 4+ blog posts. well then you have seriously underestimated my lack of productivity. here is post number 3 where i discuss this wall (and it clearly won’t be the last because, you may notice, the frames are still empty).

it never even occurred to me to hang art up here when the walls were the original dirty yellow, but now with the moody wolf grey i love the contrast of the white frames and the depth the mirror gives when you’re walking up the stairs.

this mirror was $40 on clearance at home goods. i had popped in to look at rugs and was trying so hard not to buy anything random but the mirror was speaking to me. so i was like WWEHD (what would emily henderson do). and i bought it.

AFTER the fact, i’m meandering through anthropology house & home and i see THIS:

vindication (shakes fist triumphantly at universe)! mine is a little different and i have no idea if its cheaper, knock-off quality (probably) but to get a $298 look for $40 is a win in my book.

moving on.

call me sexist, but i always leave the “heavy lifting” (and math) to mike. its for the best. he finally got to hanging these over the weekend and its a nice addition, don’t you think? i’m going to get some photos blown up in black & white to fill the frames. ikea frames are such weird sizes, so i’m hoping i can make it work. oh don’t worry installation number 4 coming soon!

below, you can see the drama unfold before your very eyes…


so what is UP with 2014? its a blizzard, its warm, its FREEZING… come to think of it, my eating patterns are emulating the weather. i drink green juice all day, i eat three cupcakes the next (technically it was one cupcake plus 2 cupcake tops)… i won’t bore you with a belated list of resolutions, but the bottom line is, i am trying to clean up my act. with mixed results. more on this later.. (lets just say i got a nutribullet for christmas and i want to tell you all about it).
any who, here are some adorable pics of baby dane:

so silly.
oh, remember that little teaser i threw in at the end of the finished entry post? well, we have gone from this:

to this:

i am taking baby steps to a whole new level. can the finish-project-fairy please swing by and hang these frames for us please? thanks. notice the christmas decorations are down? that is an accomplishment in itself.

joking aside, we have been very very busy on the home improvement front. busy planning and demo-ing mostly. we are officially REfinishing our basement over the next month or so. not US, someone we hired.. but we plan to be very involved in the process.

(demo (read: destroying) is his specialty.. )

so this will basically become the finishing my basement blog for the unforeseeable future. its all so exciting. a little overwhelming and a little stressful (its a big investment and a lot of faith in our contractor).. but mostly exciting.

the before pictures could not be any more terrifying, so this should be a very serious “before and after of the century” candidate!

i lied when i said i would only be talking about the basement project. i have a lot on my mind. i think i am going to get more random than ever in the coming weeks. till next time!

entry project II

so here it is. we broke up the large expanse of dirty, yellowy walls into a section of decorative molding below and rich color up top. the result is a high impact, major transformation. i am totally in love. the molding was done with MDF. we were back and forth between the MDF and poplar, and ultimately left it up to our neighbor, a very experienced contractor, who decided MDF was the better value. whatever it is, its pretty. 

and look, storage! we have a pathetic little coat closet that is strangely shallow and fits about 3 coats, so the hooks are very necessary.
i’m not thrilled with the floating shelf. it juts out awkwardly far and is a weird width. i would love to have something custom that fits perfectly in the space… but for $30, this expedit unit from ikea will do for now. 
and now i have a before and after shots from just about every angle. the christmas decorations are a bit distracting, but we’ll have to deal.
we’ll start upstairs on the landing..
b e f o r e —
a f t e r —
now facing dane’s room..
b e f o r e —
a f t e r —

facing our room…
b e f o r e —

a f t e r —
going down..
b e f o r e —
a f t e r —
now back downstairs. (so these aren’t really before, before.. you can see the bottom is already primed and the molding is penciled in, but you can definitely still get a sense of the drastic improvement!)
b e f o r e – i s h —
a f t e r —
b e f o r e —
a f t e r —
 b e f o r e —
a f t e r —

as for the “million decisions and details” i referenced in my last post.. here is a perfect example. we had to figure out how to handle this bump-out above the door. it wasn’t a straight-forward wrap-around scenario with the molding. but i think the way we handled it flows, and looks nice.

finally, here is the view looking up the stairs before —

and after — 

… you may notice the “art work” up there… stay tuned to see what becomes of that!

entry project

almost two years in this house. two full years. this blows my mind. i know it’s just walls and a roof and not even technically our first house.. but its the house that we brought our baby home to and really became a family.. the kid, the dog, we are totally grown-ups.
so the house.. its a big deal to me. it definitely feels like home, but it somehow still feels new and still feels like we haven’t completely settled in quite yet. over the past few weeks, we tackled one major project that was another huge step toward making the house feel like ours. because once this was complete, we had officially painted every. single. wall. in this house. every bathroom, every hallway, and come to think of it, the majority of the baseboards and ceilings too.

these are the walls that remained untouched. its a w h o l e lotta wall. this picture is from zillow two years ago. the photos of our house that were on zillow and all the other real estate listings are not representative of what the house looked like when it was actually for sale. we are pretty sure they used photos from years ago when the previous owners first tried to sell the house. this picture looks nice, but these walls were dirty. crayon marks, holes, dirty, dirty walls. but you can see why it took us so long to paint it all.

the money. the height. the decision. 

its a big commitment choosing a color to cover this massive area – the first thing you see when you walk in and the whole upstairs hallway. i couldn’t bring myself to paint it all a white or neutral. i couldn’t do anymore grey. i couldn’t commit to going bold on all this wall either. so these photos below are where i landed. the white with molding below and a different color up top. it would break up all the wall and i could have some fun with the color.


so this (below) is us for a couple weeks. painters tape everywhere. we moved these lines around a million times. at first we thought we’d copy the picture above with the two horizontal boards along the top. this is also when we were still entertaining the idea of diy-ing. less molding felt more doable. but the more we played around with it, the more we were convinced we liked the squares best. especially on the big wall going down the stairs.
the tape method was so helpful and gave us the confidence to move forward with this. i am happy to report that, in the end, we decided this was a ddiy project (don’t do it yourself). especially with the holidays and everything else on our plates. but thanks to our neighbor and his friend, we got a very quality job, at a very good price, and more importantly, 2 guys we could trust would do good work and that we enjoyed working with (because even after the work started, there were still so many decisions to make and so manny details to sort out).

so they got started. on the top: wolf grey (benjamin moore). more bluey than grey.

white dove (benjamin moore) on the bottom.

below is a “before” looking up the stairs (you can see the molding lines penciled in). a world of improvement.

next post i’ll have the finished product along with more detail on the process and all of the before and afters.

final hutch all dressed up

we may or may not be able to get the door back on… i wanted to use the old hinges but they are giving us a run for our money. in my pretend world i would have time to deal with the door and take some nice photos, but in my reality, these iphone pics emailed to myself on the train are what is happening…

lets see a yucky picture first:

and now the after:

* update: we got the door on finally. all is well in the world.