1.31.2010

Interim Bedroom Light

All three bedrooms have horribly outdated ceiling fans similar to the one that I removed from my office. I'm not one to throw things out just because they're old. But, if something can't age gracefully then she just won't cut it. There's nothing graceful about this ceiling fan. Out.
Alas, finding replacement ceiling lights for the guest room and for our bedroom has not been an easy task. However, during last week's Ikea trip I spotted what I thought might be a guest room contender.

Given that S is in paradise somewhere and that I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy this weekend, I decided to go with a try-it-out approach, rather than jump into hard-wiring the light. I held it up in the guest room and as I stood there "testing it out" a light bulb went off in my head. Ha. Why not use this as a temporary light in the bedroom instead of the guest room, then we can switch it up when I find the perfect bedroom light? Off to the bedroom.

As I did with my office, I removed the fan paddles and glass bulb shades then gave the whole thing a good dusting with my fabulous new Crate & Barrel microfiber dusting cloth (which I love and highly recommend). Then I took just the shade from the fixture and using three zip ties, attached it to the three bulb sockets of the ceiling fan unit. Easy? Yes. Perfect? Ah, no, the big brass thing is still there.
So it's a little casual for what I envision for our bedroom, it's kind of ugly with the giant brass fixture, and clearly the room needs some serious design attention, but it's ok for now while we make our way through the house room-by-room.

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1.29.2010

Basement Storage Part 2

Our basement is a work-in-progress, and while it's definitely still a mess down there, it's a huge improvement over its move-in condition. When we bought the Bee Hive the basement walls and floor were splattered with the solution used when the previous owners had the asbestos tile removed, the walls hadn't been painted in forever, there were three foot deep shelves along one wall that were totally useless, and the washer and dryer were in the middle of the room.
 
  
 
And of course, it was filled with the previous owners' stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. After much work during our first week at the Bee Hive, we had plenty of new shelving to use as an extension of our kitchen in our nice clean, freshly painted basement.
Several weeks and dozens of boxes later, the center open area of our our nice clean basement is now filled with items for goodwill/yards sale.
I hate a mess so it pains me to post these photos. But I realized yesterday that this line of boxes, while messy and chaotic, do not really interfere with our access to the wall of shelving, to the door outside, nor to the furnace behind them (or to our access to the space behind the furnace that fits rubbermaid totes perfectly). All of this means that when the boxes are gone this will be the perfect area for MORE Gorm storage shelves!

Our little pantry area is directly to the left of the door and just next to the stack o' Goodwill:
Which means that it's in the perfect spot to add Gorm 90 degree corner shelves and another shelving unit in place of the donation boxes. So with measurements in hand I zipped off to Ikea after the traffic died down last night and bought what I hope will be our final set of Gorm shelves.

When S returns from paradise we'll assemble the new shelves and perhaps I'll even stow our yard sale items neatly on the new shelves, instead of in the middle of the room.

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1.26.2010

The View From Over There

While I'm over here in my office, editing an article written by a half dozen people with vastly different writing styles, at my desk that looks like a paper bomb hit it, S is over there, flying across the globe, and enjoying this sunrise view from his room this morning.
It's no wonder that he loves his job so much.

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1.25.2010

Office Organization

The small bedroom that I'm using as my office has a wall of built-in bookshelves. Unfortunately most of the shelves are a bit too close together to hold books of any substantial size or to fit the magazine boxes I picked up at Ikea several months ago.
A few weeks ago we knocked out the top shelf, which was only 4" high, to make room for the tall stuff and I set to work planning an organizing strategy for the remaining shelves.

In our master plan this room will be a kid's room some day. It's the smallest of our three bedrooms and since it won't fit a queen sized bed it's not a contender for the guest room. It also won't fit a ton of furniture to hold all the baby stuff that seems to take over a house when a family expands from two to three, so the bookshelf area needs to hold more than just books. Now, I'm not suggesting that a baby is in our plans for the near future, and certainly not in the next 9 months, but when planning out the organization scheme for this room I took into account that the built-in shelves are staying for the long-haul and my office will move...as soon as we finish the sun room renovation.

I carry a little notebook with a house "wish list" and tons of measurements and a tape measure in my purse so I'm always armed with our house's vital stats when I'm out. During my daily Depot outing yesterday I also stopped at Target to look for blinds for the bathroom. Imagine my delight when I found that the milk crate baskets I pined over two weeks ago where on sale. I zipped back to the front of the store to grab a cart and snatched up the entire stock. Then I set out to another nearby Target to get a few more. They fit perfectly three-across on each shelf and will be a good alternative to a dresser in the room.
For now I'm using the baskets as booked ends and have filled them with computer cords, my camera, back-up hard drives and other office-y stuff.  I still need a couple more to finish off the space, but I was assured by the helpful Target stock boy that they would get more at my local store soon.

Across the office my "A" shelf, which fit so nicely in my sloped-ceiling office in Pcola, is partially blocking window, a big "no" in my book. But again, this isn't its final spot so it's fine for now. Plus, the orchids love it. On these shelves I placed shorter, wider baskets between sections of crafty and work-work books.
I placed the crafty books front and center even though its the Chicago Manual of Style and the Blue Book that I reach for every few days. I moved the cookbooks downstairs since I'm more likely to flip through them when I'm sitting around watching TV, if they're actually near the TV. Eventually we'll probably invest in a  dining room hutch where the cookbooks will find a permanent home, but it's not on our near-term furniture list.

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1.23.2010

Basement Lights

The unfinished portion of our basement has two bare-bulb, pull chain lights. Together they provide sufficient light, but because we use the basement as an extension of our kitchen and are always down there, the whole pull chain thing gets to be a pain.

After the whole ice maker discussion last night S's dad offered to wire a switch for the two basement lights for us. Of course we jumped at the chance to have an extra set of hands around here. So in addition to the ice maker contraption, S's dad showed up with a bunch of wire, boxes, and switches this morning. Then as a bonus he agreed to install the massive, ugly florescent fixture we removed from the kitchen and move one of the bare-bulb boxes to another location.

In traditional Bee Hive fashion not an idle minute was spent. While S ran to the Depot for insulation, S's dad strung the wires in the basement, cut a new hole for the double switch plate, and mounted the box for the massive florescent light.
He left the project to work on the sun porch insulation project with S for a couple hours, but by the time I got back from my run we had new lights and a switch in the basement.
I know it's not much to look at, but it makes a big difference when we're doing the looking.

All-in-all it was a hugely productive day for S and a fairly unproductive day for me. Perhaps I'll make up for it tomorrow.

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Making Drapes or How I Have a Very Bad Memory

"I'm never making drapes again; they're way more expensive than just buying and take way too much time," or something along those lines.

Apparently I forgot that I made that proclamation just a few short years ago. Oops. Soooooo here I sit with 25 yards of fabric in front of me and grand plans for lots and lots of drapes and shades.
The problem is I love the fabric and the way it looks in the bed room AND the dining room AND the living room. So I may be making even more drapes. No, wait, stop. Remember, you're not making drapes again! Oh well, maybe just this once.

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Just Take the Siding Off and See if it's Insulated

It's definitely a trend around here: projects that start with, "just go...." Take this morning for example. I was getting ready to go to G Street Fabric and JoAnn's in search of drapery lining when S said, "what should I do?" He had already pulled all the nails from the bead board ceiling in the sun room, so I responded, "go pull a few courses of siding off at the sun room roof and see if there's any insulation in the ceiling."

Two hours later I returned from my errands to find a pile of insulation on the front lawn:
And S and his dad installing R-30 insulation above the sun porch.
No only did they insulate, but they also ran wire for recessed lighting, which is a project that will probably happen sooner rather than later. This whole 3-season-sun-porch-renovate-to-my-office project is turning out to be a whole lot easier, cheaper, and faster than I planned. Up next we'll insulate the floor and install new windows. Then all that will be left is a little wiring, painting, and I'll be ready to move in!

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Ice Cold Beverage Anyone?

Last night during dinner S pulled out his homemade ice cubes, little chunks of ice chipped off of a frozen block from a gladware container, when he refilled his father's and grandfather's drink glasses. His father turned to me and asked, "do you want your ice maker hooked up?" Um, yes please?

We had an ice maker in Pcola, which was super convenient. But, because the space was already plumbed for an ice maker, installation was a breeze when we bought a new fridge there. In fact, I think the guys from Sears hooked it up as part of the delivery. Here, we weren't so lucky. No ice maker plumbing to the fridge. And I have to admit that we never had an ice maker at home in Maine, so I have no clue what it takes to "install" an ice maker. Not too much apparently.

S's dad explained that there's some nifty contraption that pierces a cold water line, threads into the fridge's ice maker and makes it all happen like magic. Without any plumbing work. What?!? Yes, so simple/. So this morning after making a quick Depot run on our behalf, S's dad showed up with said nifty contraption. Twenty minutes or so later the contraption was threaded through a hole in the floor and connected to a cold water line in the basement.
Two hours later while I was making the guys sandwiches for lunch I heard the telltale sound of ice cubes dropping out of the ice maker.
How cool is that? Now we have overly chlorinated ice to soak in our overly chlorinated water. Yum!

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1.22.2010

Sealing up Holes in the Bathtub

The other day when I was in the shower (cleaning, I was cleaning) I noticed a area of broken tile above the cold water faucet. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me earlier, but I realized that every time we shower there's probably water getting in behind the tub through that point. Oy.
I picked up a tube of silicone bathroom caulk at Home Depot and set to work filling the void. I chose clear caulk since I knew I wasn't going to be able to make white look neat, and I did not need to add to the amateur disaster caulking present throughout the entire bathroom. The whole project took no more than 2 minutes, including time to run downstairs for a paper towel to dry the tile first.
I squirted a bead of caulk all around the fixtures and then smoothed it with my finger, and cleaned up with a cloth. Viola, space filled.
At some point this weekend I'll venture into S's closet to open up the plumbing access panel. I really hope I don't find any mold or rot. Fingers crossed.

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First Fire!

We had our first fire in our fireplace last night!
We used a fire log that was left by the previous owners, which gave off a little bit of heat and lasted for a couple hours.


We have yet to purchase a much needed fireplace screen. We registered for one at Pottery Barn and may use our gift cards to buy it I think it's only available online so maybe we'll order it, if we don't find one locally. For now I was just careful not to set myself on fire as I warmed up in front of the flames.

The PB set also has matching tools, which apparently we needs since I discovered that our are really more for decoration. I tried poking the log (the directions said not to) and the poker fell apart. No wonder the woman who owned the Pcola house left it when she sold the house to S.

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Go Take the Ceiling Down.

"Go take the ceiling down in the sun room" was my response to S when he asked, "what should I do?" yesterday afternoon. I had another hour of work to do and didn't think he would jump at "vacuum." I didn't exactly think he'd take the entire ceiling down in just under 30 minutes. I kind of thought he'd take down one 12" square panel. But hey, I'm not complaining.
Turns out we have cool bead board behind the (now removed) old school ceiling tiles.
We intend to transform this space into finished living area for my office and tie a hvac duct into the basement. I think I'll call a few blown-insulation companies and set up appointments to get quotes on blowing insulation into the walls. It was our intention to take down the paneling, put up batting insulation and then drywall, but I don't mind paneling painted white, so we may keep it. UPDATE: we discovered that there is already insulation in the walls! So the walls and ceiling are staying and we just shaved a ton of time and money off this project. I love when that happens (don't be fooled, I don't think it's ever happened before).

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One Day of Outdoor Work

It was a beautiful day on MLK day this week. S had the day off, so while I toiled away in my office he explored our little yard and assessed our spring cleaning needs.

At one point I looked up from my desk and saw him peering in at me as he ventured across the roof to clean the gutters.
He discovered that the main part of the house has gutter guards installed, which is fantastic given the huge oak trees in our yard drop a lot of leaves. The only gutters without guards are on the sunroom roof, which is easily accessible from my office window.

From there S moved on to pulling out the ivy that was covering a portion of the lawn and climbing up one of the oak trees.
While he was at it, S pulled off the rotten lattice trim from the base of the sunporch so I could assess the insulation needs.
Um, yes, needs insulation. Thankfully it looks like the joists are evenly spaced so batting insulation should be a pretty easy option.

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Temporary Hall Light

We're still assessing kitchen lighting and debating whether we want to take on installing recessed lighting in an area with no access from above. So in the mean time we're using the Ikea light that we intend to use for the upstairs hall light, eventually. Naturally that means I needed to find a temporary aesthetically pleasing hall fixture to cover the bare bulb.
One quick trip to Home Goods' clearance section and we now have a lampshade covered bulb to soften the harsh glare from the single bulb.
I would probably make a diffuser for the bottom of the shade if we were to keep it as a ceiling shade, but I think I'll eventually use the shade on a desk lamp in my office.

The splotchy ceiling in this photo just highlights the need for a coat of fresh paint. I just know that once we start we'll need to do all the ceilings in the entire house so I'm trying not to look up until I have the motivation to take on such a huge undertaking.

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1.16.2010

Out with the Outdated, in with the Cool: Removing a Ceiling Fan

My first impressions of this house were "holy crap it's bright" and "those ceiling fans MUST go."
Unfortunately, S thinks that we may enjoy having ceiling fans some day. Fat chance. I hated them in Pcola, I hate them here. Apart from the outdated appearance of these particular fans, I don't like the feeling of air blowing down on me, especially in a bedroom. Give me a table fan any day! And honestly, if it's uncomfortable enough to need such a massive fan at night, I'm turning on the a/c. This ain't Maine, kiddos, we have central a/c here in the beehive.

With S away for a few days for a quick trip to Spain, or wherever he ended up, I sized the opportunity to swap out the old, outdated ceiling fan with the Eden pendant lamp from CB2:
The Eden is meant for apartment dwellers and as such comes with wiring that plugs into an outlet and then hangs from the ceiling with hooks. The hard-wired options were four times as expensive. So in order to hard wire the Eden, I took a quick trip to the Depot where I purchased an inexpensive single pendant lamp with an attractive ceiling mount cover.

The entire project took about an hour and makes a world of difference. First, I got up on a stool and vacuumed the ceiling fan. I discovered thick caked-on sawdust in every nook and cranny, which made me assume that the previous owners never cleaned the fans after having all the floors in the house sanded and refinished (not to mention the thick mass of spider webs). Gross.

Next I removed all of the fan blades with the screwdriver bit attached to the drill.
Which left me with a giant brass-like monstrosity in the center of the ceiling.
At this point I pondered leaving the monstrosity and some how affixing the drum shade between the motor and the three light fixtures. But, after some quick investigation I discovered that doing so would require my un-wiring and re-wiring about 50 little connections. Pass. So I ran downstairs, turned off the power and moved on to removing the bracket holding the fixture to the ceiling. Don't do as I do, shut the power off earlier, just to be safe.

Next I unscrewed a few wire nuts and viola, hole in the ceiling:
Motor on the floor:
Blades headed for the trash (not really, I'll clean them and sell or donate the whole thing):
Next I moved on to the new Depot pendant. It came with a five foot long hanging cord, of which I only needed about six inches. So I cut the cord, and then with a blade, carefully cut back the insulation to reveal the electrical wires inside.
I exposed about 3/4" of the wires with the trusty wire stripper:
And then hopped back up on the stool to make the connections. White to neutral, black to live, green to the ground nut. I then screwed the fixture into the supplied mounting bracket, tightened everything up, screwed in a bulb, and ran downstairs to flip the power back on. Worked.

So now instead of having the giant outdated ceiling fan in my office, I have this lovely drum pendant giving off cool, soothing light.
I think I can say that my office is almost finished. I just need to sew the window shades when my big fabric purchase arrives, and hang some artwork before the big reveal.

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1.15.2010

Treating the Windows

The windows in our bee hive are all original and as such are in desperate need of re-glazing. I'm not opposed to re-glazing a window or two, but fifteen windows takes the project a little beyond the scope of my interest. I would rather be painting, swapping out a light fixture, or poking myself in the eye. You know, all those things that are more fun than re-glazing windows.

Even though it feels like we're walking around with our pockets turned inside-out lately, we do have a little house renovation fund that I saved up by paying "rent" to it during the year that we lived together in FL. We intend to use the renovation fund for projects like making our sun room into a four-seasons room and my office. But I avoid hand-numbing tasks, if at all possible, so we'll tackle that project once the weather warms a bit this spring. In the meantime we started to interview replacement window companies this week. We met with three companies, all of which had lovely products, but we could not really tell the difference between the windows. At least not what made one window quote 20k more than the last.

Do you have any experience with replacement window companies? We desperately need recommendations.

While the new window purchase hangs in research limbo, our existing windows are in need of serious treatment. No, not glazing, but coverings. We have several doors that are at least 50% window that currently have roller shades. Old, beat-up roller shades.

Since day-one I've intended to do something with the window treatments. Hour one really, when I took the mini-blinds down in the kitchen and stuck them in the dishwasher out of absolute disgust with the layer of caked-on dust and dirt covering them. They warped. Don't do that. You would think that warped mini-blinds and no blinds would motivate me to address the issue sooner, but no, I've been busy.

We bought Ikea curtains for our bedroom:
which look nice, but are a little dark for such a small room. Sooooo, imagine my excitement when I opened an email from fabric.com and discover that they're having a sale on Amy Butler fabric. I love Amy Butler's fabric! We used at least a dozen of her patterns for our wedding napkins. I snatched up 25 yards of August Fields in grey sunrise:
for drapes in our bedroom and three roman shades for the doors. And 8 yards of  Lotus in morning glory:

 
for roman shades in my office. The entire deal was sweetened with a 25% off coupon applied to my entire order. Head on over to fabric.com and use coupon code 2WMYP9 to get the same deal-i-o.

All I need now is several gazillion yards of blackout insulating liner and a spare weekend to sew. Unfortunately I doubt I'll be able to get S to step-up and help with the sewing like he did for the wedding napkins. Some things really do only happen once in a lifetime.

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1.13.2010

Pre-Paint Photos Added

I recovered a few pre-paint photos last night. They're posted over here.

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1.09.2010

Coldest Forecast in History

That's right kids, we're at Disney for its coldest day's forecast in history according to the bride of the wedding we're here to attend. We brought out woolies (literally, I'm wearing a wool dress) and S is wearing his Bean boots, but our plans for a morning run were foiled by a "winter mix" and general laziness. No worries, we'll just hang out eating mouse ears and Minnie grahams:



while we guiltily watch today's marathon runners return from the race.

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1.06.2010

A Welcomed Finishing Touch

We hung curtains in the living room, which instantly gave the room a "finished" feeling. Of course it's not finished because we have yet to unpack our artwork, but it's a welcomed finishing touch.
I was happy that we found a place to use the curtains that I made for the master bedroom in FL when S first bought the house. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had sewn hanging pockets to the curtains even though they were hung with rod clips in FL. Using the pockets make the drapes a bit more challenging to open and close, but we like the look so we're willing to spend the extra ten seconds it takes to open and close them.

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Pimpin' out the Kitchen

After many hours on the computer researching under cabinet lighting, and several unworthy light purchases, I made my under cabinet decision: Connexx LED light strips.

I can't wait to pimp out our kitchen with energy efficient LED lights! I might even venture inside the cabinets, like they did here:
I squint just thinking of how all that light will look bouncing off our granite counters and shiny pots and pans.

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