Thursday, July 13, 2017

Faucet Luxuries

We've finally completed another phase in the kitchen. We held off on installing a tile backsplash for a couple of reasons. One was because we wanted to install a potfiller. Both are done! And it's one more thing to check of the list. We hired out the plumbing and the tile work. Part of me wishes I knew how to tile, but I have zero motivation to learn and even less to buy more specific tools.


Before:




Ungrouted Tile:





Tile Finished, Potfiller Installed


We chose a white arabesque tile (this brand came in 12x12 mats) and went with white grout because I really didn't want the tile to draw too much attention.  I'll be honest, I do like the look of arabesque tile when a contrasting grout color is used, but in this case, I just didn't 
want that to be too much of a focal point. 

I've found I also like the look of the curved tile with all the straight angles in the rest of the kitchen. My first thought was that we had "fancied up" our kitchen. We decided to only tile the wall where the stove and fridge are. The stainless steel countertop has a backsplash, so a tile one wasn't necessary behind the sink. Plus, I like the warmth the paint provides.








Splashes of Color

What do you do when you can't decide between two different colors for your doors? Well, if you're me, you use both colors and have multi-colored doors.



I painted the outside of our front (above) and side doors about a year ago, but the other exterior doors were untouched. Shortly before Susanna's birthday, I decided I was tired of looking at white primed doors. I painted the inside of the side door but still need to paint the inside of the front door.

The side door




The Back Door









Monday, June 19, 2017

Thrifted Wall Art

 Sometimes I actually find quality artwork at thrift stores. There's a lot of faded, old, less-than-pretty artwork in old, outdated frames in thrift stores, but every now and again I find something that catches my eye. I prefer original artwork over prints, so I don't really care who painted it, but if I like the picture, and it's signed, I am much more likely to buy it.

Over the past year, I've been checking out the artwork in thrift stores and antique shops. Not too long ago, I found an old, rustic wooden frame. I didn't care for the print in the frame but decided to hang onto the frame and see if I could find something to replace it with. The other week I found a watercolor I liked in a frame I didn't like. And guess what! The painting I like fits in the frame (with the matting and all) I like. Just another fun coincidence - the kind that keeps me going back to the thrift stores and antique shops.

The rustic frame with a double matte inside...




The painting I like...





Better together...


I do think a darker matte would look better than the cream matte, but I'm happy that I didn't need to make this a bigger project. This is me practicing contentment with what I have on hand instead of feeling like I need to make something "perfect."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The 3rd Floor

Let's just jump right into the pictures and forget about any narrative. Because pictures are more fun, right?

Before:






Walls and ceiling removed





Spray foam insulation 
(A great decision - this has kept the house much cooler in the summer 
and warmer in the winter - the difference is amazing!)





HVAC installed




New windows and drywall - 
finally looking like a room again.




New doors installed in storage areas




We chose a color called "terra cotta". 
Some of the pictures below look
much brighter than it is. I'd say the one 
directly below is pretty accurate.



Trim...


Old wood floor...



Refinished floor. 
There is a large dark area because that part was never originally coated. 
I guess the just had a big area rug over that spot. So we have a two tone floor, 
but it's not a big deal to us. Just part of the character and story of the house.



We've got furniture in it now and have been using the space. Up until recently, however, the storage room doors have been unfinished. We've been working on them, so I have been waiting until they are finished to post any final "after" photos. 





Saturday, June 17, 2017

Vintage Pink and Black Powder Room

There's a saying I read recently that fits our vintage (antique??) pink and black tiled bathroom perfectly: "love the house you're in." In my understanding, the idea is to make the best of what you have, without always needing to change or update things to fit with the latest trend.

I happen to like a lot of vintage or antique styles, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to apply this philosophy to our powder room. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have chosen pink and black tiles for the powder room if we were renovating it. But since the tiles are in really good shape, and I am pretty sure it would take a lot of sweat, dirt and time (or money) to remove them, we had no interest in changing things around drastically. We just made a few improvements and decided to embrace the retro look.

Powder Room Before:

                                         






Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the old floor, but if you imagine old vinyl-like square tiles that are grimy and off-white/dirty white, then you'll be pretty close.

We had the wall regrouted and new floor tile installed. I scrubbed rust off the light fixtures with steel wool and took the mirror down and scraped paint off the sides of it. I originally thought we'd want to replace the black toilet and sink and put in white ones, but once we replaced the flooring, I didn't despise the black as much. I still don't like a black toilet because I can't really see when it gets dirty. And if I don't see dirt, I am much less likely to clean. Until I smell it. And at that point, I just get annoyed that I waited to so long to clean it. 

We replaced the faucet and handles as well as the towel rack with vintage looking ones. The ceiling, walls, trim and baseboard radiators all got fresh coats of paint. The walls are a light gray. I was unsure what to paint them initially, so I took my time deciding. The floor grout is gray, so I figured we'd tie that in with gray walls as well. And then it just so happened that I had a flower painting in similar colors. I love coincidences like that. So here it is now.

After:
















It's not flashy and new, but it's freshened up, clean(ish) and fits with the 
age and character of the house. 








Friday, June 2, 2017

Mulch, Stones and Flowers and a Fence

We've been busy as bees around here. I love this time of year when it's getting warm but still cool in the mornings (ideally, anyway) and the weather isn't too muggy to work outside all day.

So here's how things are looking in our back yard these days. 

(Warning: this probably should have been broken into multiple posts, but I just don't have motivation for that right now.)





There are some delphiniums growing behind the coreopsis. These are decended from seeds our former neighbor tossed from her backyard into ours at our previous home. She is no longer living, so these flowers are a wonderful reminder of her. I've learned that they don't all start growing at the same time, and they don't transplant easily, so I've had to be careful when moving them. I have them scattered all over this flower bed.



This clump of orange lillies was planted by the previous owner. I divided the clump last year and now have 3 clumps doing well. I just added a small one to the perennial bed at the corner of our property. They seem to thrive in the mix of sun and shade.



These two bushes are the same kind. I trimmed the one above pretty drastically a few weeks ago. It was twice the size of the one below and oddly shaped. New leaves are growing on it, but it looks kind of sad right now.


Moving on to the garage and garden area...


My mint tea is thriving. Those bags have some mushroom soil we plan to put around the potatoes. We're hoping for a better crop this year than last.



Our first little strawberry patch. The berries were stolen by birds before they were even ripe. We will have to do some heavy duty bird proofing next year if we want to harvest any berries. I was livid. I like birds, but not when they eat my strawberries.



So now the raspberries and blackberries are covered. They haven't done so hot at this location. We brought these raspberries from our previous yard. They had grown under the fence from our neighbor's yard (same as the delphinium) and did really great there. My theory is that they need more sun. They only get the afternoon sun in this spot.


We made the garden a bit larger this year than last. We have potatoes, beets, spinach, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, a brussel sprout plant, an eggplant and  cucumbers. Edwin started a pumpkin plant at school, so we'll try to find a place for that as well. We like to cram things in...





As we gradually try to get rid of all the English ivy covering our back hill, I've been allowing the violets to grow and I planted some heuchera. I threw in a few extra impatiens because I can't resist flowers.


The view of the playset from our fire pit, which is between the garden and this hill above.





Most of where you see mulch in this picture (and some areas not pictured) was formerly English ivy. I spent a lot of time pulling up the ivy, bagging it in yard waste bags (we set out well over 30 bags of ivy and leaves this spring) that our city picks up for us, and then going over the ground again to pull out ivy stems that were still in the ground. I know I didn't get them all out, but I put down landscape fabric over most of this area and then covered it with mulch. I'm hoping this helps to kill the ivy. Eventually, we want to thin out the underbrush in this wooded area, as well as get rid of the ivy and have a more native wooded section. 



You can see a stone path leading up to the playhouse and in the picture above this one, you can see some of the stone bordering the mulch. I dug up the grass along this path and tried to recess the stones a bit so they wouldn't be a tripping hazard. We decided to try this stone border instead of using wood and having a raised border. This way Dan can mow along the stones easily and we can also sweep the mulch back off the stones (if we care to). I'm pleased with how it turned out overall. We used the removed sod to fill in some bare spots in other parts of the yard.

And lastly, one of my favorite flower beds (although this picture doesn't do it justice) is on our back hill. This was my solution for a hill that was weedy and patchy with grass. Who wants to mow that or look at it? I made the flower bed last year, and things are really filling in nicely. It's mostly perennial flowers and herbs with a few annuals sprinkled in for a little extra color. But my plan to is to have perennials blooming successively all summer.



And the fence - let's not forget the fence! A 2-man crew put this baby in in one day. We love it. I like knowing our toddler can't get too close to the street.

And I've been surprised at how many people have stopped to tell me they like the fence.