Archive for December 2009

best of 2009: furniture finds

today is the last day of my best of 2009 posts - it's been fun going through the archives and remembering all that we've done this year on the house. we've come a long way! hopefully we can keep up the pace in 2010. i'll be back next week with a post or two about our goals for 2010, i have a lot of things planned...

but for now, i thought i'd finish off the posts with my favorite furniture finds - not exactly renovation related but it's nice to be getting to the point where we can spend some of our time focusing on furnishing and decorating our house. i'm also going to do something a little bit differently with this post and include the prices and some of my thoughts on buying furniture. i don't often talk about how much things cost on this blog - but a big reality of renovation is money and i often find it really helpful when i see budget breakdowns on other blogs. it gives me a good idea of what i can expect to spend on various projects. since i've bought almost all the furniture and decor for our house on sale, from ebay, or craigslist, hopefully you all can see that there are good deals out there if you know where to look and can be patient. especially if you're a first time homebuyer like we are and don't have enough furniture to furnish your new house :-)

at the beginning of the year we decided it was time to add additional seating to our living room. we were on a tight budget, but found a couple of options at the target home design event. we waited until the end of the event when things were on sale and bought 2 chairs:
cost for 2 chairs - $120ish. i can't remember the exact price, but it was right around $120. did i ever tell you that we actually got one of the chairs for free? these were the last 2 chairs that they had in stock and somehow during the checking out process they deleted one from the stock count and ended up just giving us the second chair because they couldn't sell us something that was no longer in their system. we tried to pay for them both, but they insisted that it wasn't a big deal and it was easier to just give us the second chair. strange, but i won't complain. i would have still bought them both for $120 each, i feel like that is an ok price to pay. they were originally close to $200 i think. so look for sales and be patient - in this case i knew that target would put these chairs on sale after a month or so because they were part of their special event. this also means that i was risking the chance that they would sell out of them, but it wasn't worth it to me to pay full price.

on to ebay and my vintage guest room chair- after much searching, i found the perfect chair for our crowded guest room - it was low to the ground, and didn't have arms which would work well for luggage. at first i wasn't sure about the color but now i love the color in the room with the blue walls and have no plans of reupholstering. plus it ended up being in really good shape for a vintage chair. i got this chair from ebay, cost was $52. i didn't have to pay shipping because i bought from a local seller and picked it up from her house.
my thoughts on ebay - there are some good deals on there but you have to be careful. i've found that i can get quickly caught up in the "what's $5 more!" and raise my bid until i'm paying more than i want. i set a max price i'm willing to pay and stick with it. i also (for now) have only bought from local sellers because shipping on furniture can be very expensive.

and on to craigslist - i had been looking on and off for the last year for another smaller dresser that we could put in our bedroom to help with our clothes storage issue. we had also been shopping around for a new entertainment/tv stand. we were willing to pay full price for a new tv stand but just couldn't find anything that fit the style/look that i wanted, and the storage/equipment requirements that mike wanted. so when i found this bedroom set on craigslist, i started thinking...
the smaller dresser would provide us with a lot of storage space, plus the matching nightstand had a couple of drawers for even more storage. the larger dresser/credenza was too large for our room, but right away i knew that we could make it into the perfect tv stand.
i still need to take some after pictures of the dresser and nightstand in our room, but they are working great so for. the tv cabinet holds everything we need it to, including mike's dvd collection that i was sure we'd have to store someplace else (i didn't want visible dvds in the living room anymore, he just has too many to display nicely). total cost? the set was listed on craigslist for $250. we were able to talk him down to $200 for the 3 pieces. we spent another $20 or $30 on smoke smell remover and some stain and wood to modify the tv stand. this was a little more than some of the deals you can find on craigslist, but we had kind of specific requirements and i had been searching almost every day for the past year. in the future i think i would think twice before buying furniture from the home of a smoker, but we were able to get rid of the smoke smell with some extra work.

and finally, my favorite furniture find, my eames chairs:
i have heard stories of people who have found these beside the road, or for $10 each at a thrift store - i paid a lot more than that. but i also got 6 matching chairs. the story of these chairs - i had seen an ad on craigslist for a herman miller table, and in the background of the photo was a few of these chairs. i wanted the chairs. even though the seller was not advertising the chairs, i emailed him anyway and asked if he would sell them. he responded with a high price and said he had 12. i couldn't afford what he was asking so i moved on. but i kept thinking of them, and after a few months i wrote back and asked if he still had them. he had 10 left so we went to look at them. now, this guy was not super friendly - he also knew what he had and was not in any hurry to sell. he had an entire basement full of mid-century furniture and light fixtures. at this point he was asking $75 a chair. i told him i wanted 6 and i wouldn't pay more than $300. he said no at first, but after realizing i was serious (and after i had taken them all out of his storage room and picked the 6 i wanted) he gave in and sold me 6 at $50 each. again - not a super fabulous deal, but i've noticed that on ebay and other places these vintage chairs do go up in price once you start to get sets of 4 or 6 that match. more importantly, i love them and they are worth that price to me.

except that i still want to switch the bases out and get eiffel bases... we won't talk about how much $$ that will add to their cost :-)

so my thoughts on craigslist - bottom line, i love it. it takes a lot of patience and the ability to see past the description and sometimes even the bad photos that people post. i know what a reasonable price is for things because i look at furniture on cl at least once a day. i have certain terms i search for - "vintage", "mid-century", "danish" because of the style that i like. i've never found a specific piece of furniture the first day of looking (like i still haven't found a good patio set, those things go quickly!) i've also not had much luck selling furniture. also, don't feel pressured to buy something just because you went and looked at it. i also always take mike with me - going into a stranger's house alone is not a good idea! we are also lucky enough to live in a big city so our craigslist always has a decent selection of stuff.

so there you have it - my favorite furniture finds, as well as some advice on finding good deals on furniture. hopefully if you made it this far (sorry for all the text) you found it helpful. and please keep in mind that we don't have much flex room in our budget for things like furniture so we've learned that we have to make some sacrifices with some other things when we make these kinds of purchases. cutting back on eating out has been the hardest for me, but at least now i have some dining chairs to sit on when we eat at home :-)

happy new year's everyone!!


best of 2009: room

when we moved in to our house almost 1.5 years ago, i thought that it would take 6 months, tops, to completely de-wallpaper, re-paint all walls and ceilings, and refinish the (promised by both realtors and previous owner) beautiful hardwood floors under all of the gross carpet. then we could take a few years to work on smaller renovation projects while saving our money for a big kitchen and bathroom remodel. we quickly learned that it can take over 3 months to remove wallpaper from just one room... and that painting takes much more time when you have to repair the walls first... and that we only had half of the beautiful floors that were promised to us. so that is why we still have the damaged hardwood floors downstairs, a completely untouched by us stairway, and one entire room that still needs a lot of work. and that's to just get it to the point where i thought we'd be a year ago. which is why we are still working on starting, and finishing, rooms.

we worked on some good rooms in 2009 - we have our downstairs bathroom, that was a lovely shade of school bus yellow before:then there was the time that we decided to ignore all of the rooms that we hadn't even started to paint our bedroom for the second time:(by the way, i realized i haven't taken a single picture of our room since this one. i will have to work on that...)

we also had the room that gets the award for "most changed" - our office, aka the "old spice room"this room also gets the award for "most frustrating". please see: katie vs crown molding: round 1, katie vs crown molding: round 2, and finally, katie vs crown molding: round 3
(and yes, i realize that i haven't posted any recent pictures of this room either... the thing is, we actually never finished working on the baseboards, and it has become our second box room/storage room - so it pretty much still looks like the picture above, only with more stuff. and there is no katie vs crown molding: final round. the crown molding and i have declare a truce - it will look decent as long as no one looks at it too closely. or steps into the room and turns around and inspects the corner above the door. that is it's bad side and i've accepted it).

but the room that i'm giving the best of 2009 room award to is our guest room.because once we removed the lovely green (broken) ceiling fan with matching green curtains...
and the "build-in" shelves that came with the house...
and painted, painted and painted...

we now have a guest room that i think is very relaxing and inviting and is actually one of my favorite rooms in the house. sure it's pretty cozy after we put in a queen size bed, but it's big enough for our guests, and that's what is important.well, our guests and our cats. because they think they are the most important.

** please note that none of these rooms are what i'd consider to be complete. we still have lots of boxes to unpack, pictures to hang, and things to do to decorate and continue to make this house our home. at this point i consider a room complete once it has fresh paint on the walls and i can start to move furniture in. or more boxes full of random stuff, we have lots of those :-)

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best of 2009: small project

we have done a lot of little projects throughout the year - you know the kind, the project that you randomly think of on a friday afternoon while at work and decide that you will complete over the weekend. the projects that you think will take a few hours and won't cost much at all... and then end up taking you the entire weekend, some of the next week, and sometimes even the next weekend... or the next... and always always always cost a lot more than you first thought. but once you've started, you have to just keep going until they are done. because even though i'm labeling these things "small projects", in reality, i have learned that there is no such thing when dealing with home renovation.

looking through the archives i had a lot of projects to choose from - we replaced the dated light fixtures in both the downstairs and upstairs hallway. we worked on our curb appeal by updating the light fixture, installing a new mailbox, and planting a tree. i even decided, in a moment of craziness, that i wanted to wallpaper the inside of the china hutch (note to self, never wallpaper again). but i think my favorite "small project" of 2009 has been replacing our bathroom door.
our louvered bathroom door did not match any of the other doors in the house, it was the wrong style, wrong color, and well, was louvered. it was a big door fail.
we found an old door and door knob at a local architectural salvage store. it took us a while, but we were able to cut it to size and stain to match the surrounding woodwork perfectly. we then frosted both sides of the glass for extra privacy.

it lets so much more light into our hallway and into the bathroom. i also think it helps make the spaces seem larger (well, that and the light paint color instead of pink wallpaper).

we still need to install the strike plate on the door frame so that it will actually latch when closed, but i'm considering it a completed project. and it passed the big test - we have had several guests over since installing the door and no one has questioned the frosted glass / their privacy :-)


best of 2009: big project

i hope that everyone had a great christmas! we drove to columbus last saturday and stayed a week. it was a very busy week but it was so nice to see everyone and we had a great time. i have some pictures of the family and fun, i will post those after i unpack my camera cord. based on how little i unpacked last night, it could be a while... the cats are enjoying playing in the pile of boxes and bags that are in our entryway though.

with only 4 days left in 2009, i thought this would be a good time to highlight some of my favorite house projects from the past year. plus the blog has been lacking house posts lately and i thought it would be nice to do a follow up on some of our projects. i'm hoping to do one post a day for the next 4 days - starting with my favorite big project.

looking through the blog archives, i think we have only done 2 larger projects in 2009 - refinishing the floors upstairs and some landscaping/grass planting in the backyard. based on those 2 choices, i'm going to have to go with... favorite big project of 2009 - the floors!

we started and completed the floor project in feb. this is the only project that we (so far) have hired out. we debated trying to diy the floors but after reading so many horror stories online, we decided to call in a professional. we interviewed i think 5 different people and picked the one that ended up being not only the cheapest, but also came with the best recommendations. we did all of the prep work ourselves to save some $$ - starting with removing the carpet right after we moved in and removing all of the staples.
the office was the worst before - it had glued down yellow carpet pad that had turned to dust over the years. this was as clean as we could get it after hours of scraping.
office during...
and office floors after. we went with no stain - just 3 layers of poly. it really brought out the beautiful wood and i think it looked the best with the darker stained woodwork.
den before - it appeared to have some kind of area rug stuck down at some point with super sticky carpet tape, with the outside edge finished a different color. strange.
so pretty! i think the floors look the best in this room just because it gets the most amount of natural light. this is the best picture of the true color of the floors, it is not as orange as it looks in the other pictures.
our room before - lots of paint splatters on the floor.
and our room after. we decided to repaint the room and to paint the baseboards white before moving the furniture back in. our room is missing all of the door moldings and these baseboards were not original and actually very red in person. it looks a lot better now.
it's been about 10 months since this project and i have to say that i have no complaints at all. even with our dogs walking around i haven't noticed any scratches in the finish. the color has stayed the same (some people have complained that the finish turns a yellow/orange color after a while when using just poly). i am so glad that we brought someone in to help us with this. if anyone in the stl area is looking for a floor guy, let me know! once the floors were done, we were able to focus on painting and completing rooms upstairs. we're getting there...

as for our other big project - it didn't turn out as well. this was our yard before:

and the during / after. i'm very happy with how the flower beds turned out, but i think we may have made some bad choices in the plants that we picked. luckily the worst seemed to be the marigolds, so i think i'll just try to pick something smaller and more low to the ground next year and see if that helps. the scrubs we planted didn't hardly grow at all because the marigolds basically took over the entire bed. also, the 2 weigela that we planted on either side of the stairs grew a lot taller, but did not fill in and seemed to be half dead at the bottom. i'll see what they look like next year, but we might need to replace those too. and the grass? yeah... we had some grass for a little while, but it started to die again in the same area later in the summer. overall the grass looks better than when we first moved in, but it still needs a lot of work. luckily mike seems to have taken an interested in the landscaping and doesn't seem to mind researching these things. i really just like to plant flowers and i'm good about watering them... but that's about it.



we're supposed to get some snow tonight... and i have nothing else to post about today, so i thought i'd share one of my favorite pictures of winter.i took this photo when i was in finland a few years ago. i actually have a lot of photos from that trip, i should do a post on it someday.

have a great weekend everyone! i'm going to be busy the next week or so with christmas plans, but i'll try to get in a post or two. :-)

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fun fabric and a new room

so, do you remember this room? our fourth bedroom... it has been a box/extra furniture/storage room since we moved in almost 1.5 years ago.
we moved everything out when we had the floors refinished, but then just moved all the boxes back in. it is the next/last room that we need to work on. i'm hoping to start it soon after the new year. based on the small piece of wallpaper that we started to take down, i am cautiously optimistic about how quickly we will be able to remove the wallpaper. the ceiling has already been painted, as well as the closet, so the walls are really the last big thing that needs to be done before we can make it a functioning room. well, that and finally unpacking all of those boxes. you should see how many we crammed into the closet... yikes. the purpose of this room will be some kind of second office, tv room, and studio. we've been calling it the den. i've been calling it "my room". i like studio though, so maybe we'll stick with that for now. i think i've been out of school long enough that the word "studio" no longer brings horrible thoughts to mind (kidding! kind of...) it's a good size - almost as large as our bedroom and has an exposed brick wall. it also gets a lot of light, it is the only bedroom with windows on 2 sides of the house.

i've been thinking about this for awhile, and i think i want to paint the walls a medium gray. i was in restoration hardware a few weeks ago and saw this new color on the walls of the store:
it is called slate. i really liked it so i picked up a sample. i'm still open to other color suggestions but for now am really loving a medium gray. we'll see how the sample looks on the walls.

i was on another blog earlier today and she was talking about painting a room gray, and was looking at curtain fabric options. she had an image of some fabric that i love. love love. i think i need to make it mine. how great would that look with my paint color? and the brick wall? and this rug from ikea that i've wanted for forever but didn't know what to do with?
link for the fabric is here.

and here are some other images that i have in my studio inspiration folder on my computer. i just started thinking about this room so i only have a few images.
i'm sorry, i don't know where the first image is from. the last two are from the recent issue of lonny.

so what do you all think? good place to start? what do you think of the fabric?


christmas party

on saturday we hosted our second annual gingerbread house party. we had a great time - good food, fun houses, old christmas movies, and great friends. but i only took one picture the entire night!
and i didn't get either of the 2 cute babies in my one photo, booo. i was a little nervous about having 2 little ones in our house, but we just kept the dogs upstairs for the night and it worked out fine. trevi (the cat) was not happy though, apparently he does not like little kids.

yesterday we braved the crazy christmas shopppers and went to the mall... we still have some shopping to do, but we got a lot done. now on to wrapping (i love wrapping presents, i'm weird).

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look what i found on my computer today...
743048510_869acbdb26_b[1] and this why we got 2 puppies. this was taken when they were 7 weeks old.
and here they are 5.5 years later. :-)

any big plans for the weekend? we're having our second gingerbread house party tomorrow night and i'm very excited! and then on sunday we are (hopefully) finishing up our christmas shopping. have a great weekend everyone!

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