Archive for April 2009

curb appeal

Remember our, um, lovely, mailbox? Obviously, at some point, the plastic mailbox was picked out to match the plastic door. Yikes. As much as I loved being known as the house with the orange plastic fleur de lis mailbox, I really wanted a new one. I had another one picked out but it was very expensive for a mailbox and we were having a hard time justifying spending so much money on it. Fyi, this is a common discussion at our house. Well designed always seems to = more expensive. During the rainy days of their visit, Mom and Dad decided that we should look at Lowes for a new mailbox. I guess they didn't like the orange plastic one either. Somehow, I never noticed this mailbox before. I thought Lowes only had ugly mailboxes with more ugly decorations on them. I wanted something plain. Less is more. But this one came with lots of "optional" colors and stickers and if you just leave those things off, it was neutral enough. And since we were replacing the mailbox, we thought we should probably just go ahead and get a new (brighter) light fixture... I realize that the new fixture looks tiny, but it's much better than what was there before and it gives off a lot more light, which I really like. I kind of want to wait and see how the new (original) front door looks once we get to that project. We might upgrade the light again at that point, and then we could put this light above the back door since that one also will need to be replaced eventually. I'm very excited about the front door project, hopefully we'll be able to get to it sometime this year. It's going to make a huge difference to the house. I put plants in those pots a few weeks ago and got the hanging baskets over the weekend. Mom and Dad also decided that we should "just look" at trees while at Lowes... and then we came home and planted our new cherry tree. In the rain. Mike and I finished up the tree project over the weekend by putting down the mulch and planting a few flowers around it.It is a kwanzan cherry tree, a few of our neighbors have them and I loved how they look in the spring. Our tree is only about 5.5' tall right now, but eventually, it should look like this:It has a medium growth rate, so it should grow between 1'-2' every year.

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1850 pounds

I think we discovered the weight limit for carrying things in our SUV....
Much better! Good thing we only live a mile from Lowes. That was just the first of three trips this weekend.
We had great weather this weekend, perfect weather for doing yard work. We decided to work on our raised flower beds in the backyard. We started bright and early on Saturday with the first trip to Lowes to buy the materials. We picked out the blocks we wanted to make the walls and loaded 75 onto a nearby flat cart. Then... I noticed that on the handle of the cart, in very small letters, it said "broken" and sure enough, the cart was missing a wheel and wouldn't move. Ugh! We had to unload all of our blocks and put them on another cart, not a good way to start the project! (fyi, the blocks weighed 18 pounds each) Luckily some nice Lowes employees helped us load the blocks into the car. After unloading the blocks into the garage (if you're keeping track, that was the 4th time we moved the blocks in less than 2 hours), the first thing we did was decide on the shape and spray paint the line on the grass.Then we dug a 4" deep trench for the wall.
Next we filled the trench with 2" of rocks and then 2" of sand to create a base for the wall.
The first row went down pretty quickly.

**at this point I stopped taking pictures. We put down a layer of garden cloth and used construction adhesive between the rows of blocks. We went back to Lowes to buy more blocks and dirt. By Saturday evening, the flower beds looked like this:
We really underestimated the amount of dirt we needed to fill the beds.

Sunday morning we went back to Lowes (after stopping by Panera to treat ourselves to an iced coffee, yum!) and bought a lot more dirt, some compost, mulch, and a few more plants and flowers. Of all of the things we've done on the house, this was by far the most physically demanding project and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to move tomorrow (it hurts my arms just to type this!) but I am proud of us, we were able to get the project completed by mid-day today, and even had time to do some yard work out front.
I can't wait to see how it looks as the plants grow and it starts to fill in a little more. Right now it's not very visible from the deck and that's where we spend most of our time, but it makes a huge difference already as you look at the house from the back, and I think it makes the deck look more finished. At some point we'd like to put in a patio too... we have so many plans, but only so much time and $$. This ended up costing a little more than we had planned, but hopefully from now on we'll only need to buy a few annual flowers each spring.

Project break down:

4 bags of rocks
4 bags of sand
80 blocks
35 bags of top soil
5 bags of compost
4 bags of mulch

This is what we planted (you can stopped reading now if you're not interested in this kind of stuff, this is more for me so I can keep track):

2 wine & roses weigela
1 goldmound spirea
1 rose glow barberry
3 moonshadow euonymus
2 knock out rose
6 african marigold
18 petunia

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etc.

I realized when I posted about the guest room I forgot to include photos of our other 2 rooms. The office is coming along, the top cap for the baseboards turned out to be the wrong color after staining (even though we followed the same process as the crown molding, which is a perfect match, grrr) so we need to somehow fix that and install it later. But we started to set up the desk and the bookshelf. We are also keeping a few boxes in this room, just to get them out of the way. We have a functioning office! I would like to eventually get a new desk chair, new blinds, hang something on the walls...
The den / brick room is kind of set up, we plugged in the tv and set up the elliptical (exercise) machine. The other half is just being used for storage. We still need to remove the wallpaper and paint, but I think that project is being pushed back because we can still use the room as it is while we work on other things.

Last night we decided to start looking at patio furniture. We have 2 chairs and a little side table that we bought when we moved in. That is fine for just us, but we hope to have people over to cookout more this summer, and once we start landscaping it would be nice to have a place to sit outdoors. The conclusion after last night's shopping trip - patio furniture is super expensive!!! I had seen a set a Home Depot a few weeks ago that I liked, it was $199 and came with a square table and 4 chairs. After going to several other stores, I decided that was probably the best that we could afford right now so we went to get it... and it was gone. I came home and looked around online and discovered (through Making It Lovely's blog) that Home Depot had put it on sale for $149 last week and they were selling out. So I got up extra early this morning and went to a different Home Depot on my way to work. They had one, but only the display and it wasn't in that great of shape. And they wouldn't discount the price any. After much back and forth and calling all of the stores in the area, I have a set on hold for me at another Home Depot, I'm hoping to go pick it up over lunch or after work. But here's the only picture I could find, also borrowed from Making It Lovely:
We really wanted a rectangular or oval table that we could put 6 chairs at, but those really jumped up in price. I think that this will work for now, we can always get a bigger/better set later in life when we (hopefully!) have more $$ :-) We might still try to get another couple of chairs or something later in the summer when patio furniture starts to go on sale.

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the yard

Last weekend (when my parents were here visiting) it rained. And rained and rained and rained... Since many of our plans involved being outside, I asked Mom and Dad what they wanted to do instead, and surprisingly, they wanted to help work on the house. They must not read the blog enough if they thought that sounded like fun :-P So on Saturday we discovered a cool new store (more on that later) and went to Lowes to start looking at plants for our backyard. Sunday we went back to Lowes to get some stuff for the house, installed a few new things on the front porch, and also started working on the hutch. We need to finish all of those projects, but it's supposed to be really nice this weekend and I'm excited to start working on the yard! Oh, and in case you were wondering, we also went out to eat a lot and did other fun things :-)


Currently, our back yard has no landscaping. We have a nice deck, a 1/2 dead giant tree, and some chain link fence. We want to put some flower beds in and do some landscaping by the deck and in front of the garage. We have a few plants ready to be planted, but first we need to decide what kind of landscaping we want. I thought I wanted squared-off raised beds in front of the deck and along the garage... and then I was thinking maybe more free-formed beds would be better... and now I can't decide.
What do you think? Should we follow the lines of the deck and make 2 rectangular beds? Or should we make them be more organic in shape? I think that in plan, I like the curvy beds, but when I look at the picture I'm seeing the rectangular beds...

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a room for our guests

We (mostly) finished the guest room just in time for my parents' visit over the weekend. There are still a few things left, like painting the inside of the closet and staining the baseboards that were hidden behind the shelves to match the rest of the woodwork. But, for the most part, it is done and it makes me happy to be able to check another room off the list. Here is the before, complete with "built-in" shelves and the green vertical blinds with matching ceiling fan:

That door is to the closet.

After clearing out the room and patching the walls, the first thing we did was paint the radiator. It was the last radiator that needed to be painted in the whole house! Yay! It was yellow before.
Then we had to do some electrical, um, investigating... The green ceiling fan never worked so we had to do some testing to see if it was the fan, or the wiring, or? Turns out that one of the old wires was broken up in the ceiling, luckily we were able to reach in and fix it. We're not going to talk about how Mike shocked himself while up on the ladder or how I had a small fireball come out of the wall switch while I was holding a piece of metal up to the wires. Nope, not going to talk about it. Good news is that it now works :-)
After much debate, we decided to go with another ceiling fan. Normally I'm not a big fan of fans (hehe) but we couldn't afford some of the other lights that we liked. And I really do like fans in bedrooms while I'm trying to sleep.

You can see that we started painting in the picture above. When I first started thinking about the guest room I really wanted to have nice light neutral bedding with a dark color on the walls. The furniture we had for this room was light wood tones, I thought it would contrast nicely with darker walls. Then our friends gave us their extra bed frame (light colored) and I found all white bedding... so I picked the most perfect shade of dark blue, Rainstorm by Sherwin Williams, and had Lowes color match since SW wasn't open when I was ready to paint. I had to go back and forth to Lowes a few times because they really messed up the color match the first time and I ended up with bright aqua. Yikes! Mike was nervous, I don't think he was fully agreeable to painting the room so dark. But now with the white duvet, white curtains, and light furniture in place, he really likes it (or at least that's what he told me). I love it, the room gets a lot of natural light from the big front window so it still is very bright during the day. I think it looks very calm and relaxing, even though the walls are dark. It makes the bed and the big window become the focus of the room. I realize that some people might not like it as much as I do though, I think Mom's words were "wow, that's an, um, interesting, color choice..."
This is my favorite picture, I think the white radiator looks especially beautiful against the dark wall :-)

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here.

I'm still here! I just haven't had time to update the blog... work has been very busy and we've been trying to finish up the guest room in the evenings. It's done (enough) but blogger wouldn't let me upload pictures this morning. I hope to have pictures up soon though. Just in time too, my parents are coming tonight to for a long weekend visit!

I've also signed up to take the LEED exam in June, some of the house work might be on pause until after the test. Has anyone out there taken the exam? Any advice?

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hello? is anybody out there?

Well, this is it. My 100th post. I've noticed that some bloggers do creative things for their 100th post, like list 100 random things about themselves, or have a blog give away/contest. I thought about listing 100 random things, but I got stuck on #1. There's a lot of pressure to start a list like that with something really good!

Last week I signed up for google analytics. This allows me to see all sorts of fun stats about who is visiting the blog, where they are from, etc. Over the last week I've had 54 unique visitors to five2eight! While that may not seem like very many compared to some blogs out there who can get up to 100 comments on every post, I was surprised to see that so many people were reading (or at least looking at the pictures) what I've been writing. So, in honor of my 100th post, could you do me a favor? If you read my blog, could you leave me a comment? Let me know who you are!! Do you have a blog? Is there anything you'd like to know about me? Is there anything else you think I should write about? I know that right now I mostly cover our home renovations, but I've been thinking about starting to include other aspects of our lives as well...

When I started this blog, we gave out the address to friends and family to keep up with our home renovations. I thought that they were probably the only people who read this thing (Hi Moms! Hi Grandmas!)... but since I don't think I know that many people, I was just wondering who else reads five2eight.

Thanks :-)

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katie vs. crown molding: round 3

Katie: 2, Molding: 2Katie: 3, Molding: 2
We were able to finish the crown molding in the room and it looks, well, decent. Just don't look too closely... I think that even though we beat the battle of the crown molding, in reality, no one was really a winner. I don't think we'll be doing that again any time soon.
In other news, we're still waiting on the grass, and it's supposed to snow again tomorrow.

Mike's upstairs putting together the computer in the office as I type this, we need to install the top cap of the baseboards after the stain dries, but I think we can start working on the guest room this week!

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katie vs. crown molding: round 2

Katie: 1, Molding: 1
Katie: 1, Molding: 2


And that (along with purchasing, cutting, and starting to stain the top cap of the baseboards) was our Saturday.

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katie vs. crown molding: round 1

Last night we decided to start putting up the crown molding. We have some (very limited) experience with this, so we should have known what we were getting into. After some quick google searching (how did people get things done before google??) we decided to follow the directions on the This Old House website. Seemed simple enough. Step one was to install the first piece with both ends cut square. We cut the crown molding (we had already stained/polyed earlier in the week) and started nailing it up... The directions said something about finding studs and joists to attach to, but since our joists are running parallel to the crown molding, and this is a drywall over plaster over brick wall, we just starting shooting in nails and hoping that they would catch something. At this point we were still having good luck, almost every nail seemed to catch and the first piece crown molding is secure.

I think we did a good job of matching the stain, I'm not crazy about the scale of the molding with the other woodwork, but it was the best we could find/afford and we didn't have a whole lot of room to work with above the transom.
Step two: cut the end of the next piece at a 45* angle, upside down, angled as it would be on the wall... also easy. Then came the coping... The directions were to follow the profile of the molding and cut it back at a 5* angle from the surface.... ok... Attempt one was a failure. Mike started it, I tried to save/finish it, in the end it looked like we had just hacked the end off at a random angle with a chain saw. Hmm... not the finished look we were going for. This is when we remembered that all of our other crown molding experiences were with white woodwork, meaning we could just get it close enough and then fill in all gaps with caulk and paint. So we tried again. I was getting a little angry. I don't like not being able to do things. I decided that Mike was (obviously!) the problem with the first attempt and I would do the second attempt on my own.
Mike was not the problem.
Attempt number two did start out a little better, I was able to get the front with a nice finished edge. But the 2 pieces would not join together nicely. I was getting even more frustrated and angry. I vaguely remember Mike muttering something about needing to go do the dishes and quickly exited the room.
At one point I found myself yelling at the crown molding "I can make tiny little scale models of entire buildings, I will not let you defeat me!" to which the piece of pine decided to show me by starting to look even worse than the first attempt and Mike came back upstairs to remind me that we have 4 more corners that will need to be coped and I shouldn't be such an angry perfectionist. So I gave up for the evening and went to bed.
Katie: 0, Molding: 1

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office progress

We've been slowly putting the office back together. The walls are painted, the ceiling is done... we still need a new light fixture but can live with the bare bulb look until we find something we like. But the baseboards... and the crown molding... it is much more time consuming to install stained woodwork than it is white painted woodwork. Plus we're having to match the stain colors of the new woodwork to what is existing in the room. We are spending a lot of time doing test stains, samples, trips to Lowes to buy more stain, not to mention trying to actually find all of the different pieces we need. Our baseboards are made out of two pieces, plus we needed shoe molding. We decided that easiest (so it seemed!) and least expensive solution to our baseboard dilemma in the office was to buy one new matching bottom half for the wall that has nothing, and then replace the top piece all around the room. We cannot find a new matching top piece, and the custom mill option isn't worth the cost for the little bit we need. Then, we can salvage the top pieces to use elsewhere in the house as needed. This is taking some time, but we're working and moving forward. Mike also re-wired the outlets in the room over the weekend, they were previously mounted on top of the baseboards and we wanted them recessed. Last night we installed the shoe mold. The pictures are from over the weekend, we've done a little more since then, I just haven't taken new pictures...We had to removed the old baseboards and cut 1/4" off the bottom because the tallest shoe molding we could find was still not tall enough to cover the darker stained portion at the bottom (previously covered up by carpet). You can see what I mean on that little piece at the bottom left of the above picture. Then we had to attach some blocking in a few places to have something to reattach the baseboards too.

Um, yeah... This is probably not how you're supposed to do electrical work... We were also working on cutting down the show molding.

Reese and Cooper were helping. Like the new rug?? I found it at Lowes, it was in the clearance section, originally $75, reduced to $25. Yay! It has a black border around it, I think it will look nice with our darker office furniture.

We need to get a lot done this coming weekend, we have some visitors coming in a few weeks and I want to have the guest room done so they have someplace to sleep! We're planning on finishing up the office this weekend (finishing the baseboards and installing the crown molding) and then start moving all of the furniture and boxes out of the guest room so we can start to work on painting, etc.

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