Archive for October 2010

floor decisions

a little bit of background on our floors:

when we bought our house every room had carpet. even the kitchen had carpet. when looking at the house i pulled up a corner of carpet downstairs and saw hardwood floors underneath. they appeared to be in good shape. the first thing we did when we got the house was to go through
and remove all of the carpet - it was really dirty and smelled bad. and the biggest reason? most of the carpet on the first floor was pink.
upstairs we found the hardwood floors to be in good shape. we eventually were able to sand and refinish and they look great. the downstairs floors, not so much. the biggest problem is that they were splintering. we had several hardwood floor experts out to look at the floors and every one had the same opinion - the floors were too thin to sand again, and even if sanded, they were splintering so badly (the top tongue of the tongue and groove flooring was coming off) that they were beyond repair. it is really unfortunate because i feel like the original wood would be beautiful if we could just refinish it. really our only option was to replace the floors.
here is just an example of the condition of our floors. you can see how the splintering is actually now causing the floors to start to separate. this has just gotten worse as we've been walking on the floors for the last 2+ years.

we have had a lot of time to think about and debated all of our options. did we want unfinished or prefinished? could we do it ourselves? do we put hardwood in the kitchen? what do we do around the radiators?

we decided to go with a prefinished oak 2 1/4" wide floor. we picked a gunstock, low gloss finish. we wanted to go with something that looked similar to what we have upstairs and what is existing. we went with a prefinished floor because we want to install it ourselves. installing the floors prefinished will allow us to work around our furniture and live on the floors as soon as they are installed. plus, it seems that the finish on the prefinished floors can actually be more durable than finished in place floors. and with our dogs, we need all of the durability help when can get.

once we had decided on the kind of floor, we went to many different flooring stores including lowes, home depot, and several discount stores to check out all of the options. we kept coming back to a bruce floor. one thing that i really liked about the bruce floor is that it had square edges. most prefinished floors have beveled or eased edges to allow for some installation tolerances between boards. i prefer the smooth look of finished in place floors (they do not need these built in tolerances since they are sanded smooth after installation) - so i was happy to find a prefinished floor that will still have the smooth transitions between boards. we actually found the best price for the bruce floor online. i was nervous about ordering our floors online but the company had great reviews and was highly rated by the better business bureau. the flooring is supposed to be delivered this coming week, i will let you know how the online experience turns out.

we had a busy weekend so we weren't able to get as much done as i had hoped, but i will keep you updated on the progress. hope you all had a happy halloween!


are we crazy?

early last week mike and i started talking about our downstairs floors. it seems that every few months for the last 2+ years we keep getting to the point where we are this close to making the floor purchase, and then something happens. the dog needs surgery. we have an unexpected car repair. all of our friends get married in the same month in 4 different states. mike has to go to urgent care during the one month ever that we don't have health insurance coverage because he just switched jobs. you know how it goes.

we've been trying to be extra careful with the budget lately and as a result, we found ourselves almost ready to make the floor purchase. and i want the floors to be done so so badly. it's kind of embarrassing to have people over and have to caution them not to walk in certain areas of the dining room. or, to constantly get the heels on my shoes stuck between the separated pieces of floor.

after i wrote the post on the fireplace surround on tuesday, mike and i decide to go to a tile store just to look. we ended up putting down a deposit and ordering tile for the floor in front of the fireplace. it was the most impulsive decision i think i've made about the house yet, but i feel good about it. we realized that if we really wanted to get started on the hardwood floor project, we needed to know what we were doing by the fireplace. the tile shop had 8"x20" format carrara marble tiles. carrara marble is what i had been looking at. since we cannot afford a single slab of marble, i think that the tiles will be a good compromise. they are a step above basic 12x12 and i think will look more purposeful (and not just like we wanted marble but could only afford 12x12). plus, i picked out 2"x8" carrara tiles that i'd like to use for the fireplace surround, and i like that the overall look will be more uniform, just a different scale for the floor vs wall. i think it will also look like a more modern interpretation of what might have been there originally, which will fit in nicely with what we've been doing in the rest of our house.

so to recap:
last week: maybe we should look into this floor thing?
weekend: discussed in length with the in-laws when they were visiting, went to price marble
monday: started to research other fireplace tile options
tuesday: went to tile store, bought tile
wednesday: panic
thursday: decide to just jump in and WE BOUGHT THE HARDWOOD FLOOR!!!!!!! ALL 760 SQUARE FEET OF IT!


seriously though, this is the most expensive house purchase yet. and so impulsive (i'm horrible at making decisions). and i'm still freaking out.

oh yeah, and the punch line? this entire thing needs to be done before the first week of december. i am giving us that deadline because christmas is my favorite holiday, i must have a tree, and we always have a christmas party. can't really have a party without floors.

it's getting exciting around here and i will try my best to keep you all updated on the progress. up next, a list of everything we need to do, a tentative schedule, and a little more information about the floor we purchased.

i'm trying to be organized ;-)



so i don't want to jinx it, but it seems like we might actually be really close to purchasing our floors. we will be installing new hardwood floors throughout the entire first floor of our house. unfortunately, our existing hardwood floors are worn and damaged beyond repair. we've only been talking/thinking about this project for the last 2 years, i cannot wait until it is done. part of the final stages of preparation is deciding what we are going to do with the fireplace. right now, it looks like this:
it is obviously no longer a working fireplace, but it is still a focal point of the dining room. the brick wall has been patched a few times and the floor tiles are loose. as part of the new floor project, i would like to start fixing up the fireplace by replacing the floor tiles. i would like to install something that would be flush with the new hardwood floor, which is why i need to figure out what i am using asap. what i really wanted was a thin slab of carrara marble. i went to price this over the weekend and quickly realized that even the discount remnant slabs are way out of my price range. now i am leaning towards carrara marble tiles, probably in 12x12 format. i would like to eventually tile the back of the fireplace with some kind of smaller format tile (perhaps subway tile) and install an antique grate.

for fireplace inspiration, i turned to my favorite source - local real estate listings. this may seem like a strange source, but whenever i am trying to make a decision on the house that could impact resale and/or i am curious what would have been original to the house, i turn to local houses. i found some great images today:
many of our neighbors actually have similar green toned glazed tiles around their fireplaces still. i love the original look, but don't think that i should try to replicate it with new material.

the next two images look like they include a combination of old and newer materials:
3948 Humphrey (those shelves are kind of fun on either side of the fireplace) - this image has an antique fireplace cover similar to what i've found at local salavage stores. only they only have the surround, not the actual cover. we'd get both.
IMG_6953 i like the colors used in this image, the light tones of the floor tile and the surround look nice with the woodwork and the floors. i don't really care for the type of tile they used on the floor, and if i did 12x12 tiles, i'd use a much smaller grout joint.
this is more like what i was thinking for the fireplace surround, again, i like the lighter colors with the woodwork and floors. i really am not a fan of red painted walls...

i think i am going to try to go to a few local tile stores and see what i can find. i will leave you with this image, which you may recognize from the inspiration images i posted awhile ago.

**edit: i guess i should add that i am not trying to replicate what would have been around the fireplace originally, i am trying to find a simple (and inexpensive) solution that still works with the rest of the house. i do like to mix in some new modern items (our light fixtures are a good example) but i do not think the fireplace is where i want to make a big modern statement.


repost: dining room light

i had a question the other day about my dining room light fixture. i also have not had much time lately to write anything new or interesting for the blog. and i've noticed that i've gotten some new readers (hi new readers!!). so given all of that, i've decided to do a repost today on the dining room light fixture.

reposted from february:

as i mentioned in my last post, (and over the summer in this post) mike and i have been thinking about/working on our dining room light for awhile now. i had it designed in my head, and we actually starting buying parts for it over a year ago... and then everything just sat in our basement. our only excuse was that we weren't sure how to do the electrical portion, and, we were having a hard time finding the last couple of necessary pieces. but friday night we were able to find everything we needed, and we decided to just jump in and see what happened. by the end of sunday night, we had this:






i love how it turned out. love it. and hopefully i can use it as motivation to continue to work on the dining room - we still need to get new blinds (going to ikea in march, can't wait!) and i'd like to get some kind of buffet or other storage furniture for the room. right now the room only has the table, chairs, and large mirror. i also need to get some more art on the walls but i'm having a hard time finding something that does not compete with the painting. oh, and the floors... someday.

for the tutorial, see part 1 and part 2.

8 months later and we are still loving the light fixture. we've gotten a lot of compliments on it when we have visitors. it adds a nice touch of modern to our old house. i do have to dust it every once in awhile because the glass does get a little dusty. the fun part is when you dust it the entire thing always shifts a little and it will look just a little different.

fyi - i also noticed that both z gallerie and west elm have recently starting selling something similar.

i hope to be back posting more regularly soon, thanks for sticking with me!

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last saturday we had the perfect fall morning. mike and i got up, went to starbucks for pumpkin spice lattes (favorite fall drink ever!) and then went to the farmers market. we bought a small bag of the mini donuts from the vendor, and then walked around enjoying our breakfast of coffee and homemade donuts, buying the usual fruits and vegetables. we also got some pumpkins and fresh flowers. i bought white pumpkins from the market last year and i was excited to see that they had them again this year.
i do not typically decorate much for the season (except for christmas of course!) but i do love the put out some pumpkins. lately i've also been trying to have fresh flowers around the house. i've been loving all of the yellow, orange, and dark red flower options lately!
i haven't bought any larger pumpkins for the front porch, i've been trying to decide if i should. i can't remember the last time i carved a pumpkin, but maybe i'll give it a shot this year.


work work work

all day long...

hi friends! sorry it's been so quite here lately. the project that i have been working on at work is going out to bid next tuesday (translation - i've been working a lot). i've been working on this project for the last 2+ years so i am so happy to see it finally go out.

i'll be back soon, hope you all are having a good week :-)


hinge sconce

a few weeks ago i finally ordered 2 hinge sconces from cb2. i had found them a few months ago and really wanted to get them for our bedroom.

6+ years ago i bought 2 lamps with paper shades from ikea. when i bought the lamps, i assumed they would be somewhat temporary until i found something i liked better. strangely, these lamps have survived through 4 moves.
the good thing about these lamps is that they give off a soft enough light that i can read at night in bed without bothering mike. the bad thing is that over the last 6 years, trevi had decided that he likes to sometimes eat the paper shades.
while some people might have paid extra for the planetarium effect that the lights had, i didn't really care for it. plus, ever since we decided to use non-matching bedside tables, the fact that the lights were at different heights bothered me. i didn't mind the fact that the tables were at different heights, but i thought it looked strange at night when the lights were on. i thought that the sconces were a good solution.

i ordered the sconces online a couple of weeks ago and they quickly arrived a few days later. when i opened the box i noticed that the connection between the sconce arm and the box that should be mounted to the wall was off. it had not been assembled correctly. i opened the second sconce and found the same thing. they would have been crooked if i would have hung them on the wall. i called customer service and they were really nice, but said that several people have had the same problem. maybe they got a bad batch of sconces? they offered to send replacements, so i gave it a second try. the second pair of sconces arrived equally as quickly (they even shipped them before they had received the first pair back from me), but they still were not quite right. luckily, the second pair was only slightly off and i was able to twist them a little to make them straight. overall, i was happy with the customer service from cb2, but i was/am frustrated with the quality of the sconces. the installation directions were not correct (they tell you to install the bracket vertically when you clearly need to install it horizontally), and i was annoyed that i had to do a little tweaking to make it straight. they are also advertised as having a black finish, and the finish definitely has a slight brown tint. i liked the look of the sconces though and hadn't found anything else i liked better, so i decided to move forward with installation.

(side note, whenever we start getting out tools, cooper gets scared and always runs to hide in the bathroom. for some reason he thinks the bathroom is a safe place. and he always takes his stuffed toy. i don't know what he'll do when we eventually renovate the bathroom!)
we had much better luck with the sconce installation once we disregarded the instructions. who really needs instructions anyway... and i am happy to say that i love the way that they look now that they are installed.
(trevi, on the other hand, always comes running to us when we start getting out tools because he thinks there is a chance we might have the laser level. the laser level is his favorite thing ever.)

(i also just realized that we have 3 different pillow cases on the pillows. yep, just keeping it real...)
i still need to buy the little u-shaped nail cord fasteners to help control the cord issue. but i like the fact that the sconces are just plug in. i think once the cord is attached to the wall and straight, it will look fine.
better, right?

we installed the sconces over the weekend and i am happy to report that they are perfect for night time reading. plus they can be angled away for even more indirect light.

i'm glad that this room in finally starting to come together!


he did it!

yesterday morning mike ran in his first half marathon! the race was held in st charles, the finish line was near old town st charles along the river.
mike has been training for this half marathon since we ran the 5k back in april.
he ran the 13.1 miles in approx. 2 hours and 8 mins. his official time should be posted some time this week.
our friend erik also ran the half marathon. i am super proud of them both!
i think that mike enjoyed running the race, but now that he's also playing rugby (did you notice the giant bandaid over his eye??), he said that he wants to cut back on the long distance running so he can focus on lifting again.

who knows though, maybe he'll run another one at some point in the future. he's already mentioned that he might sign up for a 10k or two, so i guess he's not totally over the long distance thing :-)


bertoia chairs

our friends brought out the bertoia chairs when they came to visit last weekend. thanks again to mom and dad, the chairs look great in our dining room.
and once we get new bases for our eames chairs, they will all fit around the table.



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