Couch Potatoes

If you don’t follow me on instagram, you probably think we have passed the blogging responsibilities down to Tucker, who unfortunately cannot type, or completely given up on this little old house of ours, OR that we are being lazy couch potatoes. If you do follow me on instagram, you’ve seen this:

Truth is, our living room is 97% done. We have to do the trim around the beams and a few paint touch ups, but I’ve been holding out on all update photos because..we bought a sofa and a loveseat! And it will be 6 to 8 weeks until we have them. And we’ve been working on and blogging about this project since March so I feel like I can drag it out longer. But we are so close to having real-life adult furniture! YAY!

For local people, we went to North Carolina Furniture and Mattress and it was glorious. The brands they work with have great reputations for quality, the sales people are polite and don’t hound you like the other bigger stores do, and everything is custom ordered based on your specifications. We first went in on Black Friday (in the evening-I’m not THAT crazy) wanting to walk around and see what they had. They had a sweet sale going on that ended on Sunday, but we hadn’t seen what we were looking for ANYWHERE and weren’t ready to commit to anything. We sat our butts in every couch they had (because literally all of them are beautiful and comfortable) and once we left, we had two major contenders in our search! We got there about 40 minutes before closing time, so we told Susan (their in-house designer) that we would likely be back on Saturday to look a bit more. She told us to measure our room so that she could put together a floor plan with our two sofa contenders and talk about traffic flow, rug sizes that would work in the room, etc. We went in on Saturday afternoon, sat in our two contenders again, discussed the floor plans Susan drew up, and took home about five fabric samples. On Sunday afternoon, we went in and ordered them! I can’t speak highly enough about our experience. They made it so easy and fun and we can’t wait to see our gorgeous sofa and love seat in person soon!

Since I know it is killing you not knowing what we got, we ordered the Flexsteel Westside Sofa and Loveseat in a Charcoal Gray color that has a beautiful texture that unfortunately my monitor doesn’t pick up. We chose the Florentine leg color and even got to choose fabrics for pillows (the stripes and floral below)! Simple & Classic 🙂

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photo from http://www.Flexsteel.com
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photo from http://www.Flexsteel.com
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photo from http://www.Flexsteel.com
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photo from http://www.Flexsteel.com

Now we are hard at work finishing up our sunroom floor, windows, and trim so that dust is no longer flying once the couches get here. 🙂 Oh, and I seem to have started the downstairs bathroom, too. More on that soon!

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#kickinggrassandtakingnames

This post has been a LONG.TIME.COMING. but I think it is a better post because of it, so there’s that. This is a story about our first really big fail on this house. We were failures with a capital F.

Early this spring, we decided it was time to try to grow grass in our front yard. There is something to be said about a lush, thick, beautiful yard of grass. It is fun to walk barefoot in. Tucker likes eating it. It gives Josh a chance to use our lawn mower since he is usually sooooooooo so sooo bored on weekends (haha!). And…it looks better than this:

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Needless to say, we wanted to give growing grass a shot, even though our lot is heavily wooded and there is a short period of real sunlight throughout the day. After testing our soil to test it’s PH levels and that sort of thing, we determined our game plan. We started out with a truckload of compost from our city dump mixed with Vigoro Super Green Lawn Fertilizer and pelletized Limestone. By the way, Josh and I also know the best time to plant grass is in the fall, not the spring. We knew this when we planted grass in the spring, but we were feeling invincible after finishing our kitchen. Shut up and stop rolling your eyes.

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We then spread the seed over that mixture and waited.

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A few days later, we got hit with a huge thunderstorm where the rain created a stream through the middle of the yard. A few weeks later, we started seeing a bit of growth in some areas and a LOT of growth in the lower parts of the yard where the seeds all ended up at the bottom of the stream. It was a bit patchy.

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So, we went and got some more seed and spread it again. This time, we covered the seeds (and the new grass) with another layer of compost to help it stay in the same place in case we got hit with another storm. We were worried it would kill the new grass, but a few days later it started popping up through the compost, so YAY! Soon, the second layer of seed started growing and it looked like this:

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We put up this temporary fence so that Tucker wouldn’t get in to the new grass or dig holes. And our azaleas! They are so pretty when they bloom!

With even more waiting, the grass kept growing and it was very exciting!

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Then, the summer came and it turns out… our front lawn gets more sun than we thought. And we got busy and forgot to water it. The grass totally withered away and was fried. It was really brown and sad. I didn’t take a picture because I was crying about it and couldn’t see through the view finder.

So…we started over. This time in the fall, with a better mix of seeds that aren’t Shade Blend, and making sure that we water it every single day it isn’t raining.

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Here’s to hoping the second time is the charm! We’ll keep you updated.

 

Ready, faucet, go!

Faucet Before

File this under the “Projects we should have done a million years ago because it makes us love our house WAY more” archives. The above faucet is probably the original faucet from when the house was built. As some of you may know, we do not have a dishwasher in our kitchen. We handwash everything and..we are tall. That faucet is low. Washing dishes for over a year with this faucet probably caused our spines to have all sorts of damage. As we age, we will probably become hunchbacks.

My mom gave us money at our housewarming party for a new faucet since we complained about ours so much. Our housewarming party was on October 1, 2013 just to refresh your memory. 🙂

Installing a Faucet

Tucker and Josh got to work under the sink while I unwrapped the new faucet and read the instructions. It was super simple to install and now our kitchen faucet looks like this.

New Faucet

!!!!!!! Our backs are thanking us already and that window is still nagging us for some trim to be installed. Baby steps, baby steps…We’ll get to it next year, I’m sure of it. 🙂

Get on the floor!

Faux Brick Tile Floors

So…we started this project in July prior to our trip to Turkey. We knew from our pre-purchase asbestos testing that the glue holding those sexy beast faux brick tiles down contained asbestos. Since it was only 2% of the make-up of the glue, we figured we’d chance it and just rip the tiles up and cross our fingers we don’t die in 50 years of diseases caused by asbestos. When we took up the first tile, there was scary looking powder under it and we decided just to encapsulate it and cover it with some pretty wood flooring. 🙂 Safety first.

The first step in doing so was to lay down a layer of luan, just like we did in our kitchen floor update.

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After that, we put a layer of rubber matting to reduce any possibility of having creaks in the future.

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We then realized we would have to take our door down in order to install the wood flooring. I took that opportunity to wash the door and paint it.

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While I was painting the door, Josh got to work on the wood floors. We rented a floor nailer from the Home Depot Rental Counter and it was amazing. So amazing Josh struck a pose for me.

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It was a pretty quick job-we finished this portion of this project in just two days.

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Then came the week before our vacation to Turkey and we were just not feeling up to home improvement. We had too much stuff to do, so basically all productivity stopped there. Then, when we got home from Turkey, we were playing catch up, I started a new job, and Josh’s work schedule got busier than ever. So…weeks went by and it stayed like this.

But here..enjoy some pictures of Istanbul, ya’ll! It was amazing. You need to add it to your bucket list.

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Anywho..so, when we finally got back to work, we rented two floor sanders and knocked it out in a day. The borders of the room took a few days more because we had to do it by hand. We tried many, many different methods to take off the stain around the border of the room, but found hand scraping with a paint scraper then following up with sanding with a coarse sandpaper on our Dremel Multi-Max Tool worked best. Our hand sanders didn’t get through the stain as well as the Multi-Max. That thing is my favorite tool ever.

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We had previously decided we wanted to do a pretty dark floor and we fell in love with Minwax English Chestnut, but then once we got everything sanded, we started second guessing ourselves and thinking maybe a medium or light floor would be best. We debated for a while then agreed on Colonial Maple, stained a test area, then decided we hated it in this room. We ended up going with Minwax in English Chestnut. This is when I got myself back in to blogging mode and actually took pictures. 🙂

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YAY! Doesn’t it look awesome?? We haven’t stained the floors in the sunroom yet, but we decided we are going to do the Polyurethane sealer in this room first, then tackle the sunroom after that. 🙂 We’ll keep you posted!

Guest What?

IMG_1693Last time we talked about the guest bedroom we had just completed the painting of the room and installing the ceiling fan from hell. IMG_1639We still had to buy, stain, and install new trim for the wall that got taken out after the great flood of 2014 because all of the baseboard trim on that wall got damaged. We decided to re-do that entire wall of trim and then get new crown molding for on the wood paneled wall too so that it would all match. I didn’t get an in-progress photo of installing the trim since Josh did it in the time that it took me to wash the dishes and go grocery shopping. It was a pretty quick process.

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The new trim doesn’t match perfectly with the wood wall or the existing doors and windows because the trim on those has aged over time, but we stained it as close as we could get it. We even tried mixing several stain colors and couldn’t find anything that was perfect, so…this was one of those “We did what we could” moments. You can’t tell unless you are staring at it and we hope our future houseguests love us enough not to say anything.

After the trim was installed, we got the queen bed out from storage upstairs, put it together, and then brought down the box spring and mattress. We moved our desk and office supplies into this room (from the dining room!) and brought in a wardrobe from Josh’s parents’ house to hold all of our linens/towels/etc (we were keeping them in the pantry and other various places throughout the house-it was annoying). Now all that is left is hanging some artwork and window treatments and this room is DONE-ZO!  

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Much better than it looked after the pipe debacle!

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The One that Got Away

unnamed1234 While I was cleaning out our filing cabinet, I came across our contract and inspection report from our house that “got away.”

I am sure every homeowner has one..You look at a house, love it, put in an offer, and it is under contract. Or you get out-bid. Or in our case, you get to the home inspection and realize there are lots and lots of overwhelming things to fix. Like, practically the whole inspection report was in red font, meaning: NOT GOOD. You ask the seller to fix the major problems and they say no. You debate and debate and debate about whether or not you should continue on with the contract. You counter, they counter…We walked away…and we are SO glad we did.

I know what you are thinking. You walked away from a house that had “lots of overwhelming things to fix” and then you bought YOUR HOUSE? Yes. For many reasons.

The other house was over $30,000 more and still had cosmetic things inside that we would want to change. I was obsessed with the yellow front door and the little mudroom it had as you walked in. It had a large garage/shed in the back yard and a huge magnolia tree, a screened in porch, and a fence! And a gas fireplace! It was super close to our favorite neighborhood and was within walking distance of the river and a delicious BBQ place (priorities, ya’ll). The downsides were that it only had 1 1/2 baths, it had an underground oil tank that we would have to remove eventually, it didn’t have appliances, and oh…it had major structural issues (foundation, moisture, roof, etc) that the  seller was not willing to fix.

For my friends who are going through or eventually will go through the home buying process..I have a few tips.

Try not to get discouraged. You will find the right house for you. It just might take more time than you want it to. And try not to be pissed at the seller if they can’t accommodate all of your requests, you spoiled brat (I learned that one through experience..it doesn’t help anything if you’re mad.).

Don’t rush in to something or give up one of your “must-haves” because of an emotion (I love that yellow front door!) and be REALISTIC about the amount of work you want to do or pay someone else to do. We were gung-ho about making improvements from the beginning and there are some days where we admit we bit off more than we can chew on our own.

Know that everything once you own a house is more expensive than you think it is going to be. You will walk in to Lowes/Home Depot/any store and you’ll be like…”oh cool, these screws/nails/whatever are only like $.97 each…” and then you realize that you need 40 bazillion to finish your project. Plus a new screwdriver, hammer, and, “ooooh..look! They have mirrors AND curtains here!”

Listen to your advice-giving family, even if you don’t like what they are saying. At least just listen and think about it and THEN do what you want to do. Sometimes they really DO know best, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Every seller has a “thing” they are looking for in the transaction. Maybe they don’t have a ton of cash on hand so they CAN’T pay the entire closing cost amount, but are willing to drop the price a bit or be flexible somewhere else. Maybe they are an investor and don’t really care if they sell it right away because they can afford to sit on it and wait for someone who will pay full price. Maybe they have to get out of the house ASAP and can’t wait for a later closing date. The key is to find out what they want, weigh it against what you want/can afford, and decide whether or not it will work. If you feel uncomfortable/uneasy about where the negotiations are headed, get out and go look at more houses.

You’ll find it!

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I’m Board

We have made quite a bit of progress on our quest for a white washed wood plank ceiling in our living room. Holy moly, it has been a lot of work. The prep work these recycled boards needed was UNREAL and very time consuming. We did all of the prep work over a month and..we kinda still aren’t done. We have bills to pay, ya’ll.

Here is a brief rundown on what we’ve been up to:

1. Rip cut the boards using a table saw to remove any damage that was done to the tongues and grooves while removing them from the room.

Rip Cut Boards

2. Wash the boards down with TSP and water mixture then let dry.

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3. Sand. Sand. Sand.

4. Wipe down boards with clean water and let dry.

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5. Whitewash the boards using Minwax Whitewash Pickling Stain. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, then wipe with a clean lint-free cloth. Let dry for three hours or more.

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  • Side note: Many people (including the instructions on the stain) suggest using a wood conditioner in order to allow the stain to soak in more evenly, prevent blotchiness, etc. We tried using it on these boards and we did not see a difference with this type of stain on this wood, other than it added more drying/sanding/wiping time. I think on newer wood that hasn’t been hanging in a house for over 50 years it DOES make a difference, but in this case, we skipped that step.

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6. Finish boards with Paste Finishing Wax. Wax on, wax off. Literally.

  • We debated about using a Polycrylic, but decided against it since we wanted a matte finish. (And again, it added more drying/sanding/wiping time since the instructions suggest putting three coats on. Plus, it is on a ceiling so it doesn’t need as much protection as a piece of furniture or a floor..)

Minwax Finishing Paste Wax

7. Place boards in designated staging position based on width. We have 4″, 6″, 8″, and 10″ boards that we will mix in throughout the ceiling.

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8. Measure the center of the room and start hanging boards! (YA’LL-I MADE A GIF! Next time I’ll try to take them all at the same angle and in more similar lighting so you don’t get motion sickness…sorry ’bout that.)

Ceiling Installation GIF

 

YAY for progress! We are still working on this and hope to finish eventually. We’ve found that our house is built unevenly (surprise, surprise!) so that has thrown us a little curveball in the planning/installation process..I’ll check back in soon!

Oh, and just for reassurance that all of this work was worth it…The first photo is the board that was visible previously and the second is the whitewashed version..

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Would it be alright by you, if I deblueify you?

Points to people who just started singing-you are awesome..For those that are googling to figure out the title, it’s a quote I altered from Wicked -because we are wicked good painters and because I have decided my favorite Pandora station while painting is the Idina Menzel station so that I can BELT IT OUT and dance to pass the time. Josh doesn’t like it.

While the drywall folks were here, they took care of the ceiling and wall which were damaged when trying to fix our leaky shower drain pipe.

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We decided to paint this room before trying to tackle the rest of the living room/sunroom projects because getting this room done means getting our house closer to normal. Since they were working in this room, our kitchen AND the living room/sunroom, our furniture has been dispersed throughout the rest of the house, making our dining room our office and our upstairs/garage a dumping ground. The original color of this room was actually a very pretty color, very similar to the blue we used in our dining room.

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For now, this room acts as a guest bedroom, but may turn out to be a nursery or office eventually, so we weren’t really picky on a color other than we didn’t want it to be blue since there are so many shades of blue/aqua in this house already. We decided to go with a really pale, almost-ivory-it-is-so-light yellow – Behr Ultra Premium Plus in Milkyway Galaxy.

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Whoa, we went back in time, ya’ll. There is a fan there now 🙂

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So far, we are really liking the color and are looking forward to getting the trim re-installed and then moving our furniture back in!

Not for the FAN-t of Heart

The previous fan in our guest bedroom failed in any of the three tasks one would expect from a ceiling fan with a light.

1. That it provides enough light for the space.

2. That it moves air.

3. That it not be hideous.

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Last Sunday, Josh and I took a delightful trip to Lowe’s to get a few things for finishing up the back bedroom (trim, ceiling fan or light, etc). We’ve painted the room, but I’ll post pictures of that later, I promise. While we were looking at fans, we decided on a 44″ Hunter fan called the “Ridgefield,” which was priced at $84.96.  This fan markets itself as a “5-Minute Install,” meaning it is about 85% assembled when you take it out of the box. AKA, your only job is to wire it, attach it to the electrical box in the ceiling, and add the blades. I wasn’t totally sold on it because of the rounded blade attachment things, but it was for a room we don’t really frequent, so I was good with it!

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Then, we turned the corner and found a 42″ Harbor Breeze fan called the Lansing, which was on sale for $69.94. The picture shows the lighter of the two finish choices, the other is a darker finish like the one above). Since it was cheaper, we didn’t really think much about the added value of the “5-minute Install.” We should have. This fan made us hate each other for a good hour or so.

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Don’t get me wrong. I love the fan. The installation was torture.

Josh, of course, started by turning off the breaker for that room (this was around the time the sun was setting so we were on a bit of a time crunch to finish it while there was still daylight), while I took inventory of all of the pieces from the box and read the instructions. THE INSTRUCTIONS. UGH. The MOST FRUSTRATING thing in the world was that they started out with “Remove the screws on the underside of the motor.” Ohhh, so we are disassembling then re-assembling. That’s efficient with a freaking capital E.

Later on in the installation process, you had to remove screws AGAIN after the fan was wired and then push the motor assembly back up toward the ceiling and then re-screw the screw back in to its’ place. At this point, Josh dropped the screw into the bowl of the fan and had to undo a lot of the work that had already been done. When he finally got the screw out of the fan, it fell onto the floor. Meanwhile, Tucker was OBSESSED with me and kept trying to sit on my lap and it was hot and I was sweaty and I was yelling at him to get out of the room and he wasn’t listening so I didn’t see where the screw fell. Reminder, the sun is setting and there are no lights in this room.

We couldn’t find the screw. I went to go find a flashlight and found three, all of which needed new batteries. I huffed and puffed and said something snarky like, “Good thing I found this out prior to hurricane season, geez.” Josh huffed and puffed and stomped off to find his phone to use the flash light. I kept suggesting for him to look under the baseboard heaters. Josh said he knew it fell on the other side of the room. I said okay. (Imagine this with each of us being snippy and not very nice..it wasn’t a good look, ya’ll.)

We looked for another 10 minutes through the rest of the screws provided for the fan installation and they all look the same in the dim light. Josh finally agreed to look under the baseboard heaters and looky there, sparky! WE FOUND IT. Under the heater.

At this point, we are both sweating our butts off (because we are cheap and refuse to turn on the A/C) and just ready for it to be over. Josh got the screw where it needed to be and then we started the blade installation. That went super smoothly and then all was well in the world.

Bottom line is..Buy the mostly pre-assembled fans, don’t install a fan when the sun is setting, and don’t install a fan with your spouse.

Ya’ll didn’t know you’d be tuning in to the blog for marriage advice, now didya? You’re welcome.

But look, we have a fan! How fancy!

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Drywall

We have walls, people!!!

Josh started putting up the vapor barrier on Sunday (the clear stuff with the red tape holding in the insulation that we installed last weekend-no post on that because…it was boring, really.) Then, on Monday, the drywall and other supplies were delivered so that the crew could get started early Tuesday morning.

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I went to work on Tuesday morning and when I came home, all of the drywall was hung. I sat on the floor for about an hour just soaking it all in because it makes a HUGE difference. For anyone out there is debating on DIYing drywall or hiring it out, I have three words of advice for you: HIRE IT OUT.

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On Wednesday, they came in and mudded all of the seams and the places where they screwed the boards into the studs and then on Friday, they did all of the sanding!

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They were FAST, ya’ll. And I think I may be addicted to hiring out jobs now, because I would leave for work and when I got home things would magically be done. It was amazing. It was definitely money well spent because if we were doing it, we’d probably still be hanging the first piece and then ripping it back off because it wasn’t good enough.

Now WE have to get back to work and get the whitewashed planked wood ceiling planned and installed. And prime and paint the walls (and decide on a color). And find light fixtures and fans we like. Etc, etc, etc. Unfortunately, our money tree has lost a lot of leaves lately, so back to DIY it is!