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In: Renovation

August 23, 2014

Housetour 2014 Upstairs

It’s been over 3 years that we lived in our beloved home. Much has changed, much will still change, and we are happy to be in this cozy place that has become truly ours. It is still constantly transforming and adapting to our ever changing needs. At this point we are planning to stay in this house roughly until Milo is done with elementary school, so another 5-6 years. The neighborhood and the community is just too great to leave and the elementary school is right across the street. Eventually however, we would like to move into a single family house with a garage and our own yard. With that in mind we are trying to make mostly cosmetic changes that take the house from old country to fresh contemporary on a low budget, so that it will sell easily and hopefully for a profit.

Some of the updates we are making throughout the house are:

  • Paint all trim bright white instead of cream color
  • Change all brass light fixtures to white, black, or silver
  • Swap out all brassy wobbly door hardware to brushed nickel
  • Remove nasty old carpet from main level and basement and replace with wood floors and new darker carpet
  • Repaint rooms to a more gray based coordinated palette instead of tan and red.

Other than that it’s really just some major decorating. Look at this evolution of a home.

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February 16, 2013

Fanciest Closet In Da House

Before, I was just a messy and boring wire closet. Now I am much fancier, colorful, and organized. Check me out:

Master Closet After-5

And some more fancy schmanzy before-and-after pictures:

HersBeforeAfter

 

HisBeforeAfter

 

This is where we left you off last time:

Master Closet-13

The first step in customizing our master closet was painting it a custom color. The reality is that I was too cheap to buy new paint, when we had three cans of leftover paint sitting in the basement. So, I threw some yellowish white, medium gray-blue, and navy blue together, and ended up with half a gallon of this muted blue (just a little lighter than the picture):

Master Closet After-7

Very similar to the shade that I was gonna get at the store. The amount of paint was just enough to paint all the walls and backboards of the bookcases. Up next was assembling the shelves. Initially I was gonna go super budget and just get one bookcase on each side, plus some rods to build something like this:

Closet organizer

But then I decided to go all out on this project. Just because I had been waiting for this closet for so long and didn’t want to regret any cheap choices that I wasn’t totally happy with. Also I realized that two of those bookcases would fit perfectly in the space. So we got a total of 4 Ikea Billy bookcases, the deeper kind so that all clothes would comfortable fit.

Lincoln’s side was pretty straight forward. For the hanging part of it I got some extendable rods at the hardware store and left all optional shelves out.

Master Closet After-3

On my side we had to hack it a little bit because I needed some taller space for dresses. So we cut the middle board in half, got a laminated board for the center from Lowes (they cut it to the right size and the color and finish was already close enough to the Billy’s so that it was all set to go), and with the help of my handy dandy husband put it all together. Before assembly we had drilled a hole through the center divider so that the rod would just slide through to both sides.

Master Closet After-1

In order to fit both shelves next to each other I had to take the quarter round trim out, so putting that back in will be next on the list. Along with some other detail work:

  • Paint the walls a grayish blue
  • Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA
  • Build in some racks to maximize space usage
  • Install trim around the shelves
  • Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks
  • Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on
  • Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
  • DIY some custom lamps
  • DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
  • DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
  • Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
  • Get and hang some wall art
  • Maybe a rug
  • Do the happy dance!

As you can see we already made some progress on accessorizing and dancing as well.

Here is our new hamper ($15 Home Goods) and trash can ($15 Target).

Master Closet After-8

The storage ottoman is from our foyer where we will be adding a storage cabinet instead. Now it is serving to hold my bags and as a seating bench to put on socks and stuff.

Master Closet After-10

This mirror was previously residing in our bedroom, but for the purpose of fully getting ready in the closet without having to wake up the other sleeping person (Linc and I are on very different sleep schedules) it will also find a spot somewhere in the closet.

There you have it , my new most favorite room in the house.

 

 

February 1, 2013

Undoing The Mess

Welcome back to LincNic’s home renovation show! After a 5 month baby break we are back in business. Not quite full force yet, but with a totally manageable project – our walk-in closet. I have been waiting to tackle this project ever since we moved in and am especially excited about it since  this is not only about making a space look nicer, but also more functional. It’s no secret that I am a sucker for beautiful things, but most of you also know that functionality is even more important to me. With little time and money to spare, I like to have my life and household organized to maximum efficiency. If there is an empty corner in my house, I’ll take a storage ottoman or additional cabinet over a decorative vase any time. Form follows function, people!

Master Closet-3

And this builder grade closet just wasn’t cutting it for me. Yeah, it’s nice and big, but what good is that if I can’t use half of the space? The main conflict here is that I am not a clothes hanger, but a folder. It’s way faster for me and the sweaters don’t get stretched out. So, if you look at my side of the closet, there were only two shelves to hold my stacks of clothes – only one of them really within my reach. And a lot of empty space in between.

Master Closet-2

Lincoln’s side was dealing with other issues. He is neither a clothes hanger, nor a folder, but a putting-them-downer. Whatever has been taken off the shelves or racks, just ends up laying around somewhere.

Master Closet-1

We tried to make up for the lack of shelf space by using this big ass dresser which is taking up half of the closet.

Master Closet-4

On top of the dresser we don’t have enough organized space to hold all my earrings and the stuff that spills out of Lincoln’s pockets every evening.

Master Closet-8

 

Master Closet-9

The trash can is ugly black plastic and the black hamper so deep that I almost fall in head first every time I try to find those black socks in there.

Master Closet-6

So, what was the logical first step? Creating a hot mess in our bedroom.

Master Closet-10

Then it was time to rip all the stupid wire shelving out and make some swiss cheese.

Master Closet-12

Why, you ask? Because some genius decided to use threadless screws aka nails together with bolts to attach the shelves to the walls. So instead of being able to screw them out, my only option was to pull as hard as possible and try not to tear down my interior walls completely.

Master Closet-11

Two rounds of spackling ensued and left me with this blank slate.

Master Closet-13

Now this is where the real fun starts. Here’s the plan:

  • Paint the walls a grayish blue
  • Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA
  • Build in some racks to maximize space usage
  • Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks
  • Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on
  • Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
  • DIY some custom lamps
  • DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
  • DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
  • Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
  • Get and hang some wall art
  • Maybe a rug
  • Do the happy dance!
July 31, 2012

Man Cave

Who would have thought that my man is so susceptible to advertising? When I picked up a paint swatch for our basement accent wall that was called “Man Cave”, he was all of a sudden so set on using that color even though it was way darker and brownish than what we were looking for. He also bought dog snacks for his parent’s dogs just because they are called “Milo’s Kitchen”. Just name things something that are meaningful to him, and he will buy them.

But side notes aside – this post is about the preliminary finished status of our big basement makeover. Here is a quick reminder of what it used to look like and the plans we had for it:

And here is the for-now-final result:

This project was really more Lincoln’s than mine, since I was getting too pregnant to help with any laborious work, he spends way more time down there anyway, and wanted it to become his very own man cave. A space where he can make the manlier design choices and that is totally technically geared up. So all I had to do was motivating him to get things done before baby arrives, help to strip down some wall paper, and moderate his design just a little bit.

 

Preparation

The wall paper removal and painting was the more tedious and painful part, but we had a pretty good system down (learned from the guest room makeover) and managed to finish it within two weeks (working on it almost every evening). For the walls we chose a light grey that was supposed to be color-matched to the guest bedroom walls, but turned out a little darker and blueish. Oh well, close enough for now. Therefore the darker accent wall also had to have a blueish grey undertone. We chose “Iron Frame” from Valspar and had it successfully color matched to Olympic No-VOC.

Before painting however, we had to add some more outlets to the room. There had been only three accessible outlets so far and they were both overloaded by numerous computer and TV components. This required Lincoln to take down the bottom half of one basement wall board, but the good news was that this extra step enabled us to inspect insulation levels and we were also relieved to find no mold or other moistures issues in the basement even though both our neighbors’ basement had been flooded recently.

Lincoln also added wiring for the future surround sound movie theater setup he has envisioned and laid the cables for that behind the baseboards around the room.

 

Furniture and Features

We bought all new furniture (except for the desk) from IKEA and the couch was a sale item from a local furniture store.

  • This couch was a total score and is super comfy with memory foam, dual recliners, and all.

 

  • We also concealed our messy storage shelf for all office and hobby related items. Considering the limited time and energy we had for this project we did not create a real built in closet as originally planned, but hung up a simple curtain solution from IKEA to make the mess disappear when needed.

.

  • Lincoln bought himself this long-wanted dart board cabinet. I am still trying to convince Lincoln to paint this thing the same blue-grey color as the accent wall to make it look less country.

 

  • This vintage red Vinyl chair was a find at Goodwill. It even has a storage compartment in the seat – just to my liking. You can never have enough storage space.

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  • One of the long IKEA Expedit book cases with boxes to house Milo’s toys. They are now organized by similarity and the labels I cut out of sticky felt indicate even to illiterate little toddlers which toys to find in which box and in which one they need to be put back in. Eventually I might add some cushions on top of it for additional seating.

 

  • A smaller play table. Yes, that’s right, I finally sold that big hunk of ugly orange laminate train table. This little one provides enough space for drawing, building block houses, and driving cars on it while fitting in much nicer. Whenever I get to it I will add some table toppings for different activities. Maybe a thin chalk board, a lego base plate, a traffic pattern, or other ideas as seen on this pin board. The trains are now being set up on the floor whenever needed and we can create much larger configurations.

 

  • Also, check out these cool baskets made out of woven recycled newspaper ads from China. They are nicely speckled and colorful to bring in some pop. And they fit perfectly into our side tables to hold magazines, remotes, etc. And yes, it totally bothers the color perfectionist in me how the purplish blue of the toy bins does not match anymore with how the grey-blue paint of the wall turned out. But I will not spend any more money right now, so suck it up, Nicola.

 

  • Lincoln’s desk remained as the only old piece of furniture, but was upgraded with a self-made hutch and a giant contraption to hold his two monitors, before it moved to a more suitable location on the short wall by the laundry room.


For now the furniture arrangement is still focused on the TV, but it will change a little bit once the home theatre including projector and big screen will be implemented. The sofa will then move to the large light grey wall in the back, and the screen will go up above the toy bench.

 

Art

The color scheme for the basement is quite different from our upstairs. Much brighter, colorful, and saturated. And there is even some red involved – my so not favorite color. But what can I say … the basement is a whole different zone. A man cave. And it is manly enough to be able to handle some red.

After deciding on a blueish grey backdrop of the walls, some more color was definitely called for and we found inspiration in these pictures painted by Milo:

The red, orange, and yellow, make for a nice contrast to the cool blue. I also used one of Milo’s paintings for this first official piece of man cave art:

Just use a kids painting (ideally let them use only three colors, otherwise everything will turn brown eventually), put it in the printer, print some outlines on it, cut them out, and glue on a wood board from the IKEA As-Is section. This board cost me only $1 and the fish were free. See, I couldn’t have painted such a completely random pattern on the fish even if I tried.

We will definitely need lots and lots more of some cool art for the huge amount of walls down there.

Maybe arranged like this photoshopped vision:

With some cool art from this website.

 

Future Plans

Still missing and on the definite list to be done:

  • Improve the lighting situation. The current ceiling fixtures are still too dim and in impossible locations.
  • Get some lamps for the side tables for moody lighting when no complete illumination is needed.

 

Phew, our biggest project yet. So glad to be done for now.

April 10, 2012

Welcome Back!

We did it! One day before our house was populated by some German visitors we officially finished the new guest bedroom in the basement and I have to say that it turned out great. We have been working on this for approximately six weeks and it was a real joint effort in the Tran house. Without my handyman I – the surface pretty maker – could not have done such serious handy work as installing lights and new drywall. Looking back, we actually accomplished a lot more than I dared to hope for in my original post about the basement plan. Here is the gist of it.

Just a reminder – this was the colorful craziness we had bought into a year ago:

And this is the new toned down guest oasis:

On our way to the final result we encountered many tedious tasks, such as removing wall paper with lots of water, vinegar, and persistant scraping.

Priming the walls with No-VOC primer because there is not much opportunity for ventilation down there and we did not quite want the baby to be born a natural paint addict.

Splitting the room’s lighting from the overall basement circuit and installing two new recessed lights instead of the one dim boob light.

For the sake of installing the new light switch in the room we also decided to take down the bead board paneling on one of the walls which we had never quite understood why it was there.

After taking it down we realized why it was there: Because the previous owners installed the wall framing flush with an existing corner and putting up drywall would have made for an ugly overlapping edge.

Which left us with the exact same problem – how were we gonna accomplish a smooth wall with drywall. Our solution: Using extra thin drywall and extend it to the part around the door over the existing drywall. Not exactly the Holmes-on-Homes way to do it, but good enough.

 

The trim and doors in this room were wearing many different shades of yellowed old white, so they got a fresh white coat as well .

I didn’t even have to bother with taping off the door hardware because on my mission to de-brassify this house and bringing it entirely to the 20th century I also switched out all the door knobs and hinges for brushed nickel ones.

On the final stretch I got sick and my awesome hubby had to paint the room all by himself with the perfect shade of light grey that I had found on the oops-paint rack at Lowes for $5 (and even No-VOC!). It’s amazing what a difference No-VOC paint makes. It might take an additional coat, but the smell during application is minimal and the next day the room is absolutely smell free.

It is actually a little lighter than shown in this photo (more like what you see next to the door above):

Finally, we cleaned the carpet and filled the room with all the existing stuff from the old guest room, plus a yard sale chair and a free dresser.

We are gonna hang some more framed postcards to fill the back wall, add a bookshelf and wall art to the reading corner,  and eventually also have to find a prettier solution for the electric box and modem corner:

But so far it is the most finished bedroom in our house and I am seriously worried that I won’t ever see my husband in our own bedroom again.

July 15, 2011

The shelf drama

Before we get into the part of this post where all the action happens, let me just start off by telling you a little bit about arguments in our house. Or the lack thereof. As you all know, Lincoln and I are pretty peaceful and quiet people. We are probably a little addicted to harmony and some might say to an extend that is not normal. But it works for us. When there is something that we disagree on, we usually just

1. voice our opposite opinions

2. go to separate parts of the house still grumbling over the fact that the other one doesn’t agree

3. tend separately to whatever makes each of us feel better while still thinking about what the other one said and starting to see the other side of the coin. Then about half an hour later:

4. come back together silently admitting that we understand the other position and find a compromise for this particular problem.

And there you go – crisis averted. Considering that this strategy has worked for some pretty big topics in the past (getting married, where to live, when to have kids), it was quite surprising that we clashed over something as small as a shelf in Milo’s room last week. (more…)

Finally, our kitchen renovation is done. But let’s start from the beginning. Here is what our kitchen looked like when we first met it:

Before

Absolutely hideous, right? In retrospect I can’t believe we even bought the house. This awful combination of early nineties wallpaper with all white cabinets, counters, and wooden country touch to it would surely kill any appetite if I had to live in it. (more…)