A different point of view…

Some time last year, I decided I was completely over our current kitchen color (Mother Nature by Behr).  I think it was caused by a combination of seeing tons of light, bright kitchens on blogs/Pinterest, and the fact that between our walls, cabinets and tiny windows, our kitchen was starting to feel like a dark cave.  You can imagine how thrilled T was when I decided to tell him I wanted to re-paint.  I think he was pretty sure we were never painting another part of our house ever again (sorry sweetie).  Here’s a couple photos of our cave (although it’s come a long way since we bought it!)

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I get a week off work around Christmas, but B’s daycare is only closed for a couple of those days, so I figured that would be the *perfect* time to paint- and T wouldn’t even have to pick up a paintbrush.  A win win for everyone!

Then we discovered some mold issues in the upstairs last fall (nothing major, but it indicated extra moisture was getting in upstairs).  Every summer we put window A/C units in both bedrooms to keep us from having to run the whole house A/C all night.  The way our windows are designed (wood divided lite windows, covered by storm windows to give us “double-paned” windows) leaves a very large gap (to the outside air) when they are open.  So this lets in all that lovely humid Georgia air.  And bugs.  I stuff a towel in there to help, but it’s obviously not a weather proof seal.  Right around the time we noticed the mold, I’d noticed that T had left the storm window open in B’s room after removing the A/C- which was causing his room to be colder than normal.  I asked T to close it- and in order to do so, he had to use a CROW BAR to open the wood window. Whoa.  Not cool.

I should mention that all of the windows in our house are this difficult to open- in fact, we never opened them so we took all the screens out of the windows to give us a better view.  Although I’m not sure that effort was entirely worth it because it was too difficult to get the outsides clean, so our view out of them wasn’t very good!  Plus the wood on the outside would mold every year.  I painted the outside of those windows once- and let me tell you, scraping divided lite window panes is NOT my idea of a good time.

Do you see where I’m going with this story?  No?  Well, let me spell it out then- after living in our house for almost 4 years with gross wood windows that wouldn’t open, we decided to get new windows!  This delayed our painting plans for a little while, because why paint if you’re going to be ripping windows out?

We purchased our windows through a local window dealer and the windows are manufactured in South Carolina, which is awesome (local for the win!!)  We chose a double-hung vinyl window with low-e glass (glass that is slightly tinted and has argon gas inside the panes) for energy savings (this kind of window is pretty started these days).  We opted for a sash replacement, which basically means they take out the old panes (sashes) and replace the parts that they slide on, but leave the rest in tact (the parts that are covered up by trim/drywall).  We went this route because we wanted to keep as much glass as possible- sticking an entire new vinyl window in there would have meant losing glass real estate. We also opted for regular windows instead of divided lite windows because we really wanted an unobstructed view out of our windows (I’m willing to sacrifice a little character for a view any day).

Here is a comparison of the old and new windows- same window location, same time of day:

IMG_2036[1]To say I’m in love might be an understatement!!  We also noticed a fairly drastic temperature shift, which we weren’t expecting (since glass is not very energy efficient, even if it’s double paned!)  I haven’t been able to do an energy savings comparison yet because our weather has been abnormally cold which means our gas furnace was in use a lot more than our electric heat pump this winter.  I’m interested to see the summer time savings though!

We did completely change one of the windows in the house- the dining room window.  We wanted to get rid of the cave-like feeling in there, and we really love that it looks out onto our deck/back yard.  But the way the windows were, you couldn’t see much:

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We decided to make this window a picture window instead:

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Tada!!  Oh wait- that’s just a giant hole in the wall.  Ha!  Hmm, an open air dining room in January?  No thank you…

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That’s better- and whoo hoo to the view!!  It’s SO much better than before!!  Sunsets out that window are my favorite!

Character-wise, I don’t think the outside of our house suffered *too* much:

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Especially since we added some character with the new garage doors and snow (oh wait- that doesn’t stick around does it? ha)

I know this post started off talking about paint- and I’ll get there with my next post, but I’ll leave it here for now!  What do you think?  Is anyone else doing any fun/major house changes?

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Surprise!

I’m back!  Betcha didn’t think I’d make it after the weekend!!  Ha- maybe I will stick to this blogging thing.
So after we bought our house, we spent the next 8 months painting every. single. surface.  (I don’t think we did anything have to do with the outside, except stain the fence- and technically that could be considered painting as well!)  Some people say that a room in your house won’t feel like your own until you paint it- I can see that.  Especially since one of the draws about owning your own home is making it your own space.  We had two motivators for painting the rooms soon after moving into our house, aside from making it our own space.  1. The people who lived there before were TERRIBLE painters.  I have a sneaking suspicion they painted right before they put it on the market, because that paint was slapped up on those walls.  Example: our bedroom was tan except part of one wall (not the whole wall) got left blue- why??  2.  We didn’t want to move furniture into a room until the room got painted, because we didn’t want to be playing furniture shuffle.  So our bedroom was the first to be painted, then the kitchen, then the living room, etc etc. 
Now where am I going with all of this?  Well, a few months after we’d moved in, we decided to paint the downstairs bathroom.  This was about a month before my husband’s parents were coming stay with us.  The bathroom wasn’t terrible from afar:
See- not too bad.  What you don’t fully see is the slapped on paint that’s too dark for the space, the white laminate counter top that is separating from the plywood and the giant mirror/light fixture that’s straight from the 80’s.

But up close it needed some love- especially after we’d freshened up the rest of the rooms of the house. So my husband took it upon himself to start painting the bathroom one weekend.  We like to start by painting the trim, because it’s easiest to tape off.  Around the tub is quarter-round trim that is sealed with silicone.  He started by scraping off the old silicone…to discover the quarter-round was soft.  As in squish your finger into it soft.  Whoops.  So out came the quarter-round.  Then, he got a wild hair to peel back the linoleum to see if there was any water damage to the sub-floor.  Can you guess what he found?  Yup.  Next thing we know, the bathroom starts looking like this:

Wasn’t this supposed to be a simple paint job??

 And this:

Yep, not simple.

 What we discovered was the subfloor by the tub was rotten.  And water had actually seeped under the wall, into the bedroom next door.  Yikes.  Luckily, the wall was not soft.  And we were able to pull back the carpet in the bedroom and air dry everything- the water seepage was fairly contained to a small spot and the only major damage was in the bathroom.  Phew.  (But picture me panicked when this all first started- that’s what I do, panic like it’s my JOB.)

So my husband cut out a piece of the sub-floor (FYI- never done this before- another great thing about owning your own house, you learn on the job!) and replaced it with a new piece of plywood.  What you don’t see pictures of is the 3 days (!!) it took to remove the linoleum first.  They glue that sh*t down!  I never, ever want to repeat that process!!

After the floor was finished, there was just the simple task of patching holes, leveling the walls with spackle and sanding (FYI- never put layer after layer of paint around a light fixture/mirror- it leaves a giant ridge), replacing the counter top (can’t have pretty walls with out a pretty counter!), oh yeah and laying a new floor!  Did I mention that my in-laws would be visiting within the month and that this was our only bathroom downstairs??  Nothing like a little pressure to get you moving.

We didn’t have the tools to lay tile, and I personally do not love the feel of tile, nor the amount of effort it takes to clean it.  So we picked up some vinyl flooring from Home Depot** that is a row of 3 tiles that “stick” in place (it was kind of like laying tongue and groove flooring that’s sticky) and looks/feels like tile.  See:

Not too bad for vinyl!!

The counter top was ordered from Home Depot (seriously, they love us there!) and is a solid surface coating over cultured marble (special order, made by St Paul, color is ginger).  We chose a rectangular, undermount sink.  LOVE (all sinks should be undermount, IMHO).  The faucet isn’t pictured, but it’s this one by Glacier Bay.  The light fixture is similar to this one (the sides are square though, not rounded like the one in the picture)- I was limited by what I could choose for the new light fixture because the hole for the electrical was a large square, not a small circle.  Boo.

We also had the mirror cut down, because it was mounted with plastic flowers that were 4″ inset from the edge of the mirror- gag.  Plus it was GIANT.  After re-mounting it with thin silver mirror hooks, my husband framed it out with pieces of stained pine molding.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the frame- that was done long after my in-laws visit (Note to self- take updated pics!).

Want to see the end result?

Ta da!  The stained glass came from my husband’s grandparent’s house.  It happened to fit PERFECTLY in the window and the frame matches the stain on the vanity- total coincidence.  It looks really lovely during the day when the sun is shining through.  The paint color is Harvest Brown by Behr, with Raffia Cream on the ceiling (we also used these colors in the living room and laundry room- they read differently in ever room)

Phew.  That bathroom was a lot more work than we’d expected it to be- but it looks so nice now.  Well worth the effort.  What do you think?  Have you ever found a surprise while doing a simple project at your house?

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in anyway by this company for this post.

Re-visiting the kitchen

I’m not going to say anything about how this is post #2 in as many days, for fear of jinxing my progress.  Whoops- guess I did just say something.
Anyway…a room that is constantly changing in our house is the kitchen.  Well, kitchen and dining room actually, since they are one room.  The kitchen was the selling point of the house (that and the big backyard).  We really loved the custom wood cabinets, layout and the storage space.  What we didn’t love were the counter tops, appliances and the paint color- the counter tops were 21 year old white laminate that had lost its finish and was separating from the plywood it was attached to.  You could set a coffee cup down and leave a permanent ring.  Awesome.  We knew that we could only live with these for so long (and lucky us, all the counters in the house were white laminate!)  Unfortunately, new counters are expensive, so we’d have to let that one wait awhile.  The easiest (and least expensive) thing to change was the paint color.  Because blood red just wasn’t workin’:
The blood red dining room with previous owner’s furniture

The blood red kitchen and lovely white counter tops.  Plus old, inefficient appliances.

 I’d always wanted to do a kitchen in green, so off I went to get a million paint chips and tape them to the walls.  My husband actually made the color choice, going with Mother Nature by Behr.  The ceiling is actually a couple of shades of green lighter- I’m not 100% on the color, it’s either Corn Husk Green by Behr or Rejuvenate by Behr.  Whatever it is, it’s pretty.  I do wish that either a. I’d chosen a shade or two lighter for the ceiling, because only in certain lighting can you tell there is a color difference or b. that we had crown molding in the dining room to better separate the two colors.  The crown molding idea is still on the table, we’re just not 100% sure how to do that because our cabinets already have crown that meets the dining room wall- installing crown in the dining room would involve taking off the crown on the cabinets and cutting it.  Not to mention I would like white crown for the dining room- and that cut would have to be perfect in order to match up between the white and wood crown.  It makes my head spin, I tell ya.

Anyway.  So we painted the kitchen (and discovered part way through the process that there was wallpaper under that blood red color.  Awesome.  Since it’d been painted over at least once, we just painted right over it, because removing it would have been a PAIN) and purchased a couple of appliances.  The fridge we inherited was small, inefficient and dirty.  That got moved to the garage and is now the extra fridge/dog treat holder (yeah, our dogs are spoiled).  The stove was also inefficient and dirty.  I cleaned it up and we gave it to a friend of a friend (who was using a stove from the 50’s…).  Oh and we also updated the lighting- taking the kitchen lighting from fluorescent strip and can light to track and pendant (I used one of the can light converter kits to install the pendant).  So here’s the kitchen after we did all that:

Kitchen with new paint, new appliances and new lighting.  You can see here how the dining room is right next to the kitchen.

 The dining room didn’t get much of an upgrade- we painted and installed the light fixture in the opposite direction.  Not my favorite light fixture but it worked so we went with it.  Oh and we also changed out all the door hardware from brass to brushed nickle and light switches/outlet covers from almond to white (this trick is by far the cheapest, easiest thing you can do to instantly update a room).

Dining room and a kitty- that’s Amber.  She loves to be the center of attention.

At Christmas, my parents generously gifted us with a new dishwasher and microwave, rounding out the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.  About a month later, we’d had it with the laminate counter tops and bit the counter top bullet.  I’d been eyeing Corian countertops for several months- I liked the solid surface (no way was I going to deal with laminate again) and the fact that they are man-made.  Plus the color goes through the entire counter, so if there’s ever a scratch we can just sand it out.  We even went to Home Depot** a few months prior to our purchase and picked out a bunch of tiles to choose from and then harassed asked everyone who came to our house to pick their favorite.  Once we’d narrowed it down to 3 choices, I ordered 10″x10″ tiles directly from Corian.  If you’re going to make a large investment in counters, you won’t regret spending the $15 per tile to see a bigger version of your teeny tiny sample tile.  2 of the colors we thought we liked were gross in large tiles, and the one we were just so so about was gorgeous in a large tile (the tiny tile left out SO much detail).  And we actually use the sample tiles all the time as trivets for our hot pots and pans- bonus!

Anyway- lucky us, Home Depot was having a counter top deal.  We ended up with a free sink, a discount on our color choice, 12 months no interest financing plus I think another 10% off the entire order or something like that- it was a great deal.  We went with a single basin, under-mount stainless sink.  LOVE.  I’m never going back to a double basin sink again.  The faucet is this one– we both wanted something with a pull out sprayer (not pull down) and only one hole cut in the counter (so we didn’t have the soap dispense installed).  So far it’s been a great faucet- no complaints.  Ok, without further ado:

 

Kitchen after counter top installation.  The color is “burled beach” and is 10,000x prettier in person.  Our kitchen doesn’t get a ton of light because we have a lot of trees, so we went with something light to keep it from getting too dark in the kitchen (because painting the cabinets is 100% out of the question)

With the pretty new counter tops, the rest of the kitchen was looking a little bland with only wood, stainless and green.  I had to spice it up a bit- we don’t love clutter on the counters so colored accessories were out.  One day I happened to stumble upon a shade at World Market** that I knew would be perfect!  Lucky me, it was on sale and the perfect size for the window (they’ve since sold out of this shade- insert giant sad face here).

Here’s the shade installed.  One thing that gives me hives about our kitchen- WHY is the light not centered between the cabinets??  Seriously folks…

The shade was SO pretty I quickly snatched up 2 more for the dining room windows, because the dining room was looking sad in comparison.  I installed them as outside mounts because they were the wrong size for inside mounting- I think they worked out just fine though.  We also just recently updated the chandelier in the dining room- the one we’d flipped always hung slightly crooked and too high above the table.  I found this one on sale at Home Depot and snatched it up.  LOVE. 

New shades and chandelier in the dining room make things feel more cozy.

And that rounds out the tour of our kitchen and dining room.  We love it.  The only thing left to change is the flooring (which is about as annoying as the counter tops were) but that’s something that’ll have to wait awhile- for now we’re pretty happy with our pretty kitchen and dining room!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in anyway by these companies for this post.