Step 1: Office becomes Laundry

First, we needed to move the laundry room. After moving the bookshelves out to the living room, Brad ran heat ducts to the upstairs bedrooms that were lacking them and put in a laundry chute that drops from the master bedroom into a cabinet next to the dryer.

We replaced the window with a shorter one that could accommodate the height of the counter, and added a doggie door so the pooches can get out during the day. A new washer and dryer were installed under a countertop that runs the full length of the room. Opposite the counter are wardrobe cabinets from IKEA, which replace the storage space in the back room closet.

I repainted the room with the light blue/grey from the kitchen.

There's also a new sink, large enough to accommodate Abby for a bath. The office light fixture was a bit too serious for the space and was replaced by one originally purchased for the downstairs bathroom. So now I can do glam laundry!

The back room.

When I bought my house back in February 2010, the inspector said the foundation and roof on the back mud room were bad. We could see that the walls were not straight and that the floor had a huge hump in the middle. Upon opening the attic access, we could see ice crystals all along the roof.

The consensus was that it was something that should be addressed within a couple of years, but wasn't an immediate issue. Since the back room had a separate foundation and little tie in to the rest of the house, I decided to ignore it while fixing up the more regularly used areas of the house, including the kitchen and bathrooms. Over the two plus years of owning it, I've become more familiar with the drawbacks of the place, and so felt ready to tackle the back room in a more meaningful way this autumn.

Rather than putting a bunch of money in to making a nice mud room, I wanted to rectify a few shortcomings of my home. The first is that the living areas have no tie to the back of the house. By putting a living room at the back of the house, along with a deck, I hope to open the house to the back yard. Second was to put in some sort of fireplace or potbelly stove. After investigating a ton of options, I decided on a traditional wood burning fireplace.

One of the biggest challenges in designing the room was finding a place for laundry and closet storage. The solution came in repurposing the library. While I loved the book shelves in this room, I really only used the room to toss things before people came over, or to work on the computer. By moving the book shelves to the front family room, and eventually putting my computer in the back room, I was able to set up the former office as a laundry room and add a bunch of useful storage space in the process.

In the next coupe posts, I hope to catch the blog up on our progress so far!

Here's an idea of the layout:

Stairs. Finally. Finished...

If there's a heaven, my father most certainly deserves to go there because he's an angel.
My companion in paint stripping and home improvement projects are the Audible audiobooks. It keeps a handy little ticker of hours spent listening. Based on the books I listened to while working on the stairs, I think I'm somewhere around 84 hours to remove all the paint from the spindles and take a solid first whack at sanding out the little bits that I couldn't get with a scraper.

My lovely father could see the desperation in my eyes and as a Christmas/Birthday present said he'd finish the stairs for me. And the clouds parted and angels sang...because I was absolutely kaput on sanding and pretty intimidated at the prospect of figuring out how to stain and varnish the top of the railing. He and his handyman buddy, John, finished it up with probably an additional 50 hours on top of what I put in.
He did an awesome job. At some point I'll need to put another coat of porch paint on the stairs. But right now I'm basking in the beauty of "done". (IGNORE the window to the left of the picture. It's a figment of your imagination. And it's single pane glass that I don't dare finish stripping with a heat gun until it's warmer outside. Sometimes prudence wins out over my impatience)

To celebrate, I bought out half the frame department at IKEA and had fun picking out photos from my different travels. I tried to include a picture from each country I've been to. I haven't been to nearly enough, so there are numerous repeats.
For anyone else trying to figure out frame placement to go up stairs, it was a bit of a bitch & I'll tell you what I did: All of them are RIBBA frames because the widths/lengths worked well with each other. I used 15 of the 9" squares, 2 of the 20", and 3 of the 9" x 20". In the photo, there's supposed to be one more 9" square at the very top of the stairs to make it 3 vertical spots. (I'm saving this pic for when my niece/nephew arrives this summer!) I used about a 1" gap between the frames to make 2 9" squares equal the 20" frames.

Here are some more before/after pics of the hallway:
Not a "true" before, because this was after I started pulling down the acoustic ceiling tiles. The railing looks good in the pic, but there were a lot of layers of paint and the finish on the railing was rubbed off in places.

This is a picture of all the plaster & lathe that I pulled off the walls and ceiling.

This one is after removing all the paint, but before Dad's intervention.

In the final stretch

I'm going to have to work on getting some "after" photos up!

The past few months have been a flurry of activity: with help from Kevin and Brad, the trim in the dining room, kitchen, library, and front hallway is up! It's amazing what a difference some trim work makes in making a room look finished. And it also helps my vacuuming time to have baseboards - the dog hair can't hide in the gap between the wood floor and wall! I still have more painting to do in the dining, kitchen and hallway, but it's coming together.

My current project is sanding the spindles on the stairs. Last night I finished most of the rough sanding; next up is going back over everything with a finer grit paper.

One exciting update is my new front door - I'm thrilled with it. The old one was single pane glass. The frame for it was cobbled together and wasn't well secured to a stud on the left side interior. Even with the storm door, there was so much cold air blowing in that I had to hang a large piece of felt over the door last winter.

In an effort to up the curb appeal of a front door that didn't have much punch, I also got a door surround. The curved arch pediment and pillars (made by Fypon) draw more attention and as Mom says "make my house look like it's smiling". Much credit goes to Alaina and Mom for sitting through endless questions about door, glass and surround combinations. We settled on this one from Pella - a 3/4 European door style with "Sheffield" glass. (still need to add a piece of Azek below the sill plate) The combination allows a lot of light into the hallway while giving more privacy; it's super nice to not feel like the neighborhood can see you walk downstairs in your PJs.

It was also fun to see the original siding while the aluminum siding was off. In addition to the new door, I updated the house numbers and doorbell. It's coming together!

My wall re-work

Several months ago, the print that was hanging on my living room wall took a dive of it's own volition, leaving a good sized hole in its place. I looked around for something to replace it. I was in LOVE with an Ansel Adams print, but the only size that fit the wall was a legit reproduction and out of my price range.

Enter: two empty frames and a bunch of watercolor supplies. I had fun mixing colors and making a couple of trees - one spring, the other fall. They fit well with my other pics of trees, go with my decor and didn't cost a thing! WOOT!

New member of the furmily

Mom & I left TC for Goshen, IL at 6 am to pick up Evey (Née Lady). Within 5 minutes of being in the car this is what she looked like:

She's a puddle of love - wherever there's a warm lap, that's where she is.

On the car ride home, Mom & I talked about how sweet she was and how adorable...I also found that in 9 years of having a black dog, I've chosen things that hide dark fur really well. Those same things are exceedingly good at showing white hair really well. (Like the black interior of my car, he he)

We also decided on good colors for redheads - so I'll likely be knitting an apple green sweater for Evey to go with the one I just finished for Abby. Evey has the most beautiful amber mixed in with the white - she's just the color of some of the fall leaves coming down right now.

When we got home, Mom walked Evey down the way & I went in the house to get Abby. They met up in one of the grassy areas and sniffed each other, then I walked the two of them together back to the house. This is supposed to make Abby less territorial about a new dog coming straight into the house. They both seem pretty blase about the whole thing, though I'm still doing the Alpha-dog cues for Abby (food first, out the door first). They've been sharing the bed and couch just fine, so hopefully everything else will work itself out.

Since she wasn't responding to the name "Lady" and I wasn't so keen on it, we commenced with name choosing. Originally I was thinking Ilsa (like Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca), but that wasn't rolling off the tongue well, and she just didn't "look" like an Ilsa.

We bounced around some other names, including Ella and Gracie and I tried them all out for a day or so, and slept on it, before deciding that "Evey" won out. I liked the spelling used for Natalie Portman's character in "V for Vendetta".

Do you see the two dog beds below? Guess whose bed Evey is getting into? (c:

Today Evey came with me to work, and then to her vet appt just before lunch. The vet agreed that she ought to lose a bit of weight - about 6lbs. She had a bit of yeast in the ears that hadn't developed into a full-blown infection, so I have some drops for that. And her teeth are pretty bad, but that's just the way things go. She'll have a look at them again in a month or so & see how they're doing.

After her big checkup, she was happy to go back to the office & take an extended afternoon nap on the chair next to me.

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Oh, finally...some after pics!

I hadn't wanted to put pictures up post-move in since I had people coming to visit for my sister's wedding (and I wanted it to be a surprise!). So I'll do more catch-up now...covering at least part of the downstairs.

There's plenty left to do, but I hit a wall at the end of May where I was just burnt out, so I moved my stuff in. I thought I'd be more inclined to mix working on the house into post-job time but having stacks of boxes around actually make it kind of difficult to work. The wedding and the prospect of overnight house guests was a major motivating factor. So, there has been progress.

I've officially painted every room in the house now!
Here's the layout, so you can get an idea of how it fits together.

When I moved in, just my Master BR, the downstairs bath, and kitchen were in decent shape.

Downstairs, I finished stripping and repainting the moldings in the Living Room. Got my pictures up & the room is fairly well decorated. This pic is taken from the entry hallway.

The entry hall is still the biggest mess - since all the trim molding is off, it doesn't look the greatest, plus I haven't touched the stairs. Each post on the banister needs to be stripped and repainted.

I'm so happy with how the downstairs kitchen turned out. Most of it is IKEA (Stat white cabinets), so I was able to keep my costs down. I love the double bowl apron sink! I ended up using travertine tile for the backsplash (left over from my parent's remodel) and really like having the natural stone against the wood - it tones down the bright white. The floor is Allure - fake cork. ;) I know the lights are a bit modern, but I'd seen some similar in historical Victorian kitchen pics, so I'm happy with the choice. Oh, and that big lower cabinet panel to the left of the sink is a dishwasher - isn't that swish?
A word to anyone designing an IKEA kitchen: the one thing I wish somebody had told me is that there's a "fridge" cover panel that's deeper and taller than the normal cover panels. (It's also a bit thicker). I'm pretty sure it didn't show up in any of the catalog/design software they had. I had to make an extra trip to get it, but really like that all the cabinets are the same height and that the fridge is completely enclosed. My contractor had to build a box out to get the correct depth, but it all worked out really well.
The downstairs bath is really pretty - it's much more feminine than most of the things I designed. I did all white, sticking to different textures for interest. This picture doesn't really do it justice ;)

The back laundry room. (Looking towards the kitchen) In here I swapped out the back door for a Dutch door that was in the garage.
Both the front & back doors are painted a pretty rose-red color on the outside called "Frosted Pomegranate".

I still owe pics of the dining and library, in addition to the upstairs, but those have been particularly hard to get a good photo from!

What I love about my house so far:

  1. Abby can go romp in the yard to her heart's content
  2. The floor in my bedroom is crooked, so one side of my dresser is at least 3 inches higher than the other.
  3. The morning sun in the kitchen.
  4. The sound of rain hitting the roof just outside my window when I'm falling asleep.
  5. Admiring the wall of book shelves (ah, zenlike)
  6. My wi-fi hasn't once needed to be reset (constant, often daily problem at the 'rents)
  7. All my stuff is in ONE place!
Mom bought me some geraniums and helped me plant them in the window boxes around the house. They look really pretty and less like a troglodyte lives here. It also makes me feel like maybe I won't kill everything I plant. Regular rains have helped maintain this illusion.

Things left to do:
  1. Strip/Sand/Paint Stairs
  2. Paint trim and doors in upstairs hallway
  3. Touch up walls that got dinged during move-in
  4. Strip/Sand/Paint other trim pieces in garage (fall/winter project)